Tuesday, July 24, 2018

The Digital CIO’s Three Distinctive Roles

The digital CIO is the sophisticated leader role with a multitude of responsibilities.

The digital organizations are so technology-driven and information-intensive, as a matter of fact, the success of the business relies more and more on information and technology nowadays. IT organization is like the spinal cord of the digital business which can integrate various functional abilities to bring out technology-driven business solutions. A big component of IT success has to do with the definitions or scopes of the role that the CIO is playing. Because different organizations are at the different stages of the business maturity life cycle, the CIO responsibilities are quite varied even with the same title or position. Generally speaking, IT leaders can no longer act just like the tactical managers to “keep the lights on” only. Here are digital CIO’s three distinctive roles for running IT as the trustful business partner and the growth engine of the organization.

The digital guardian: Information and technology play a crucial role in catalyzing changes nowadays, digital CIOs need to share the technological vision with the business audience and co-develop the organizational strategy for steering the organization toward the blurred territories and uncharted water. Keep in mind, digital CIOs are the scientific digital guardian, not the charismatic prophet. CIOs should be able to envision not only where a company believes it is going, but how it will get there, as well as how it might be missing out on opportunities due to low responsiveness caused by bureaucracy, information bottleneck, or the limitations on understanding of disruptive technological trend and knowledge update. IT is the significant element of any differentiated business competency and the defining factor of business success. Thus, a digital CIO has to focus on guiding the company through the digital transformation and create unique business value by sharing a clear technological vision, making wise IT investments, and delivering the tailored IT-enabled business solution. An opportunity for the CIO to add a lot of value in the C-Suite is helping C-Level leaders understand the potential of the business, the possibilities of how new technologies can enhance the creation or improvement of products and services while balancing the technical and business risks, the investment needed, and timing, etc. This is the differentiated role of the CIO as the digital guardian of the business.

The Digital strategist: Traditional IT organizations are often perceived by the business as an isolated function and a support center only. The digital CIO must reinvent IT reputation as the strategic business partner, and CIOs need to position themselves the top strategic business executives, not single-minded IT geeks. A strategic CIO is changing the dynamics of the enterprise by refining information and leveraging technology for the strategic advantage. Thus, the great CIOs would devote their time and energy to gain an in-depth understanding of the business inside-out, as well as what emerging technology trend can add significant marketing value and accelerate business performance. IT strategic planning is an integral part of the business strategy, IT needs to set the right priority, build up the strong partnership both with business managers and vendors, underpromise, and over-delivery, in order to truly make IT as the trustful business partner. The business will not only leverage IT as the tool for digital extension but also apply IT across their organization to attain the enterprise-wide digital transformation. It takes very concerted, structural, and dedicated efforts with a strong desire on both business and IT side to ensure that the company as a seamless whole is more superior to the pieces of the parts.

The digital innovator: Traditional IT leaders usually play the static management role as the controller or transactional manager, but digital CIOs are innovative problem-solvers and creative business leaders so that IT can elevate its maturity from “control to change to innovate.” IT is not just technical, but rather business-driven, dare to experiment, explore, and encourage the new way to solve business problems. For digital CIOs, walking the innovation talk is a well-prepared and business-focused journey, they must shape the bigger thinking box, breakthrough “we always do things like that,” mentality, make their voice heard, grasp opportunities to participate in innovation dialog, come up with creative ideas, and implement them to achieve the differentiated business value. Highly innovative organizations try to digitally connect key assets or context to the idea-rich innovation hubs and community-based clusters across enterprise ecosystems. Innovation is, at its heart, a problem-solving process that is cross-functional non-industry specific, as such, CIOs are the digital innovators who are in a unique position to oversee business processes and structures, be able to network the firm to uncover the problems, to get problem owners on board with innovative programs, and to devise the appropriate mix of people, processes, and tools to solve problems holistically.

The digital CIO is the sophisticated leader role with a multitude of responsibilities. The three distinctive roles as the digital guardian, strategist, and innovator help to reinvent IT for contributing to the top line business growth, solidify IT leadership as the strategic executive position, and enforce information & technology as the differentiated business advantage.


Post a Comment