Tuesday, August 14, 2018

The Digital Profiles of “Change Agent” CIOs

Change is the voyage which needs to continually discover its own landscape, avoid the potential pitfalls and enjoy the unique scene of the digitalization.

Due to the disruptive nature of technologies and the exponential growth of information, IT plays a crucial role in driving changes and leading digitalization. Therefore, in the digital era, the CIO is not a static management position, but a dynamic leadership role. The expectations for CIO have grown multi-fold. Digital CIOs have to keep evolving and playing the situational leadership all the time. The success of IT leadership has to do with the definitions or scope of the role that the CIO is playing. Here is a set of change agent CIO profiles.

The digital forerunner CIO: Compared to the business world a couple of decades ago, the speed of change is increasing, and the digital ecosystem has become more complex and dynamic. Clearly, the role of IT and that of the CIO is going through some significant changes. The CIO should become the change agent to step into the void of digital leadership. Many forward-looking organizations empower their CIOs as forerunners to drive changes and lead digital transformation at the organizational level. Because CIOs are in the unique position to oversee the business and integrate key business elements such as people, process, and technology to the differentiated organizational competency. Change is difficult, some say, change is not a problem, the primary reason for change failure is resistance to change while the second reason is the inability of leaders to deal with resistance. Work-changing acts need to be delivered together with a positive emotional charge. The CIO shouldn’t get pushed for the changes, they are actually in a better position to play a role as a change agent who can help to build the digital workplace in which effective digital platforms and tools are leveraged to make change seamlessly and inspire innovation relentlessly.

The strategic partner CIO: The digital CIO is the gap-minding role as IT is in the unique position to oversee underlying business functions and structures. Digital IT plays an omnipresent role in catalyzing business digital transformation by leveraging internal and external resources, integrating business processes, enabling, innovating, and optimizing the consumer-driven technology that’s going viral in the enterprise. Traditional IT often acts as the technology controller, but to move up the organizational maturity, a gap-minder CIO needs to forge a harmonized relationship with business users, partners, and shareholders and add multidimensional business value to the company. The choice of what would deliver value requires an understanding of the business. IT leaders have to look at things from all different angles, bridge the multitude of gaps between business and IT through building peer to peer executive relationship with functional management, leverage IT unique knowledge, and use this knowledge to uncover hidden value, not only within IT but benefit the entire organization.

The digital energizer CIO:
The classic organizational management usually enhances silos and bureaucracy by taking the reductionistic management discipline (the whole is equal to the sum of pieces) to deal with overly rigid organizational hierarchy. As a result, businesses get stuck in stagnation, lack of responsiveness and changeability. IT plays a crucial role in energizing the digital business, to make sure that information and interaction flow in every direction, digitizing the enterprise platform for idea brainstorming and collaboration enablement. An open information platform blurs functional, geographical, or even industrial borders, enables companies to integrate the critical components of a smart platform, which is “open” not only because it allows information exchange, idea flow, and participant involvement but also because it ensures that interdependencies and loyalties between partners are taken into account and build up the trustful business relationship. The digital energizer CIO can keep an open mind and keep positive energy flow, cool down stressed people before they stress others. It is important to create positive change for tomorrow as well as the moment. The digital energizer CIO can help to build up trust by bonding people around clear and benevolent intentions. When there is an interchange of thoughts, we begin accepting and opening to newness and transforming to change and innovate together for achieving the common goals and reach the digital vision.

The culture-shaper CIO: Business has fundamental pillars such as People, Process, Technology. The role of digital CIO is to identify and blend the ways that information and technology can assist and shape the business by linking all digital aspects together to enforce the value creation. Digital CIOs are “designed for changes,” they are the change agents to promote the culture of learning and innovation, less finger-pointing, more problem-solving. IT plays a significant role in shaping the organization’s culture by applying the latest technologies to empower employees working creatively and productively, and enable cross-functional communication and collaboration. Culture can powerfully reinforce the competitive advantage a generic strategy seeks to achieve if it is an appropriate one. Being digital-ready goes beyond applying the latest technologies only, it is an overarching approach to building a set of digital cultures and taking a series of systematic step-wise practices. Creating and maintaining the right corporate culture is in itself a competency.

The digital guardian: Information and technology play a crucial role in catalyzing changes nowadays, a digital CIO has to focus on guiding the company through the digital transformation and creating unique business value by sharing a clear technological vision, making wise IT investments, and delivering the tailored IT-enabled business solution. The digital CIO is the scientific digital guardian, not a charismatic prophet. Digital 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 bottlenecks, 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 the business success. Digital CIOs need to share the technological vision and help C-level leaders understand the potential of the business and the possibilities of how new technologies can enhance the creation or improvement of products and services while balancing the technical and business risks, the budget and resource investment, for steering the organization into the uncharted water confidently.

Change is the voyage which needs to continually discover its own landscape, avoid the potential pitfalls and enjoy the unique scene of the digitalization. Today’s technology enables companies to leverage their various environments or ecosystems, to chase innovation and accelerate performance. The CIO's real challenge is how you can move the ‘needle’ forward, and really mind the digital gap to accelerate your organization’s digital transformation. Digital CIOs should develop the enriched digital profiles and fit the title as the change agent.


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