Saturday, June 23, 2018

Three Perspectives of the Digital CIO’s Dynamic Role

The limitation of the CIO role is often the root cause of business failure in the long run.

There are many roles to be served by an enterprise's IT leadership. Some of these are related to ensuring that the supply-side IT management issues are handled well such as developing IT-enabled business competency and others relate to the demand-side IT management such as building relationships with business managers and professionals; seeding ideas for IT-enabled business strategies and innovative uses of information & technology to maximize digital potential of the business. The role of CIO is the mirror of the business reputation - an innovator or a plumber; a strategist or an operator; a change agent or a controller, etc. Here are three perspectives of the digital CIO’s dynamic role.

Define the role of Information & Technology in shaping a digital organization: IT becomes so critically, many times, it is a determining success factor for the long-term business strategy to achieve fast growth business goals and long-term sustainability. Forward-looking organizations see what IT is driving the business transformation regardless of the industry segment they play in. Digital CIOs need to provide the strategic vision and insight into how Information Technology can better catalyze the organizational capability to achieve strategic objectives of the company. They need to be able to tell the business about the opportunities and possibilities based on reliable data and refined information. Running IT as the business is the digital mantra for CIOs, IT will not be the business if it doesn’t focus on the top prioritized business initiatives. To keep IT relevant, running IT only with operational consideration is not the way forward; it needs to be accomplished by working with business vendors and partners to capture business opportunities timely and change how the businesses compete in the marketplace proactively. Digital CIOs should refine IT as the change department of the company, stay one or multiple steps ahead of other functions of the organization. The objective of running digital IT is to recognize what needs to be done, to assess how well things are being done, to assign and reassign priorities to what needs to be done and make wise IT investment and make continuous improvement in mindful ways.

Know your audience and enforce tailored communication: To run IT as the business differentiator, digital CIOs need to be the great leader who can communicate effectively with all levels of the company, tailor the audience to deliver cohesive message about IT as well as interpret the customers’ needs to technical requirement without “lost in translation.” CIOs are not just tactical IT managers, they are the peer to other C-level executives, not subordinate, and they are involved in key business decisions, have a solid grasp for the business goals and objectives, mapping them into IT strategy and practices. It is an exciting time for the IT trailblazers that are prepared to engage their business partners and enforce cross-functional communication & collaboration. CIOs need to bridge the multitude of gaps between business and IT through building peer to peer executive relationship with functional management, shareholder relationship, customer relationship, and vendor relationship. Traditional IT often acts as the technology controller, but to move up the organizational maturity, IT needs to forge a mature adult relationship with business users; IT should also have some touch-feely chatting with end customers or walk through the customers’ experience, in order to run IT from the outside-in lens. Digital CIOs are modern “Chief Interaction Officer” and “Chief Interpretation Officer.”

Inspire and motivate a digital workforce, make people work with you, not for you: IT skillset gaps are often the reality. IT leadership needs to ensure that the right talent is available and developed to fit the business’s long-term strategic need. IT leadership should shift the command & control management style to empowerment and motivation, build the culture of innovation, welcome unique viewpoint, improve flexibility, to make people work with you, not for you. Because you cannot command innovation or adaptation, but only inspire, enable, and encourage and even lead for improving workforce performance and unlock digital workforce potential. There isn’t any general rule or magic formula to accelerate IT workforce performance, a management process could be put in place to get an in-depth understanding of what flaws are in place, impeding good performance and its improvement, with the goal to motivate talent in the right way and maximize the collective potential. If you ensure that individuals have autonomy within their tasks, they have the intangible performance drivers that get them motivated every day with purpose and creativity, you'll be able to address performance issues with deeper touch and improve employee engagement effortlessly.

The CIO’s ability to build fundamental business competency is now greater than ever. The limitation of the CIO role is often the root cause of business failure in the long run. It is important to understand the dynamic role of IT leadership with clarity. The ultimate goal is to push the IT organization to be clear about its position through the core strategy of the company and pull all the resources for achieving the multilevel of business excellence.


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