Tuesday, July 3, 2018

The “Digital Master” CIO

Today’s versatile and digital-savvy CIOs can envision the upcoming business trends, and lead IT organization with a balanced mindset, viewpoint, activities, and speed.

More often than not, technology is the driver of business change and information is one of the most invaluable business assets of the company. Therefore, digital CIOs are born to change, regardless of which role they should play in which circumstance, they have to overcome change frictions and defeat many business challenges based on their ability to think profoundly, adapt promptly, plan dynamically, and execute assuredly. They need to keep developing their leadership strength and sharpening the management skills to become the “digital master.”

Develop technical expertise and business acumen: Digital CIOs are the strategic business executive first, and the tactical manager second. They should have both broad business acumen and deep technical expertise, be able to speak both dialects fluently and translate back and forth without “lost in translation.” The digital CIO needs to have digital awareness and share their technological vision with the board and other executive peers to build the trustful relationship with the business. The CIO should be able to translate technical expertise into business opportunities for reinventing IT as the game changer of the business. With increasing pace of changes, their vision should be attainable subject to current times and adapt to change times and help the business gain the competitive advantage for the long term. They need to have the strategic understanding of the business goals and build the high performance IT team with the right skills to implement them. The financial control to do it effectively and the technological awareness and skillset to provide a viable solution are all keys. A digital CIO should accept and understand what they have to offer and strive for what is needed to establish and maintain this balance. The honest justification for a recommendation to adopt new technologies or not as requested by executive leadership requires that the CIO has built a level of trust with the executive team first. The digital CIO can also draw from experiences and expertise of those around them, crafting the vision and managing the strategy for the ways in which tomorrow's business technologies and exponential growth of information can create sustainable business value. It is all about understanding the business's essential requirements, why they're needed and what the benefits are, only then should the technological aspects come into play for implementing the business solution to either delight customers or build business competency.

Master information management: Back to fundamental, CIO is “Chief Information Officer.” Information Management is the management with knowledge as a focus, involves the application of technologies and processes with the aim of improving decision effectiveness and creating the value-added business advantage. Information Management is, in fact, one of the success factors to run a real-time high-performance digital powerhouse. To raise the digital profile of CIO, forward-thinking organizations empower their IT leaders to run IT as the change organization, break down silos and keep information flow, idea flow, and thus, business flow. Whether a CIO should take the lead in strategic initiatives is predicated on whether they are a trusted source of cross-discipline information. If not, it may be anywhere from difficult to impossible for them to lead any strategic initiative because they are not strategic. The business goal of information management is to ensure information assurance - information held is safe, secure, and processes are legislatively compliant; and exploitation- information collaboratively enabled and fully support the business objectives on time. The added value of information and knowledge management is to develop the knowledge workforce and build the culture of learning and innovation.

Not just take orders, but co-set digital rules and co-develop business strategy: The tactical IT managers often take orders from businesses and spend most of their time and resources on “keeping the lights on.” However, to improve IT leadership maturity and shape “digital master” CIOs, IT leaders should have a seat at the big table to co-set digital policies and co-develop business strategy, as well as provide the unique business insight to lead change proactively. The role of the digital CIO needs to move towards the business end of the spectrum, as high mature businesses treat tech as their partners and often engage them in situations of even no real tech need in the short term. The strategic focus is more important in the current environment where technological advances happen at a rapid pace. Digital CIO and IT staff should listen to customers’ feedback, understand their pains, and figure out better solutions to fix their issues radically, not just follow their orders to repair the symptoms. The challenge is how to spend much less time keeping the lights on and much more time working with the business units for doing innovation. Make IT more shared, integrated, flexible, reliable, and fast. CIOs also need to reinvent their leadership reputation from an inflexible controller to an insightful policy maker and a change agent, leverage the advanced digital platforms and technologies to build the digital-ready workforce. It is easy to get caught up in the race toward being at the cutting-edge, but foresight and careful thought are required to truly understand the implications of new technology. The best CIOs understand what current technology-driven innovations can add business value and transfer this to the business seamlessly. They get engaged in the investment process prior to the decision already being made, and keep IT running flawlessly at the prevailing level of sophistication.

Today’s versatile and digital-savvy CIOs can envision the upcoming business trends, and lead IT organization with a balanced mindset, viewpoint, activities, and speed. It's about having the right blend of leadership skills, business acumen and technical knowledge that makes CIO as “digital master.” It takes multidimensional thinking to be highly effective IT leaders, it takes creativity, dedication, adaptability, and continuous delivery to ride above the learning curve and present high professionalism and mastery.


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