Thursday, August 16, 2018

Three Digital Profiles of “Change Agent” CIOs

The digital CIOs are in demand to disrupt, inspire, innovate, and accelerate digital transformation. 

Digital means the increasing speed of changes, information abundance, hyperconnectivity, and “always on” businesses. IT plays as a linchpin of digitalization. Many forward-thinking organizations invite their CIOs to the big table for sharing the technological vision and co-developing the business strategy, empower their CIOs to lead change and orchestrate digital transformation because they are in the unique position to oversee business functions and structures. Riding ahead of the change curve takes both strategy and methodology. Here are three digital profiles of "Change Agent" CIOs.

A digital innovator CIO: To keep IT and the overall business relevant for the long run, innovation is the “must have” business competency. The CIO as “Chief Innovation Officer” is one of the most pertinent titles for modern IT leaders to become the change agent. Running an innovative IT organization means that CIOs need to be able to recognize the struggles of the company by understanding the business beyond IT. Every business is different, every industry is different, the enterprise culture is also unique. That means even you have ample ideas, it doesn’t guarantee innovation success due to the management capacity and execution gap. Thus, the CIO as innovation practitioner plays a critical rule in managing innovation as a structural process which requires clear stages, information thresholds, and decision-making parameters combined with iterative management processes that support wide-range exploration at each state. Further, IT leaders should leverage the powerful digital platform and efficient tools to enforce cross-functional communication & collaboration and foster a creative working environment to renew creative energy, and allow people to push boundaries and seek out new frontiers. IT has a great opportunity to catalyze change and drive innovation by capturing digital technology trends as well as applying the right technologies to the business with tailored solutions. From the CIO leadership perspective, they must flip the leadership style from a controller to an influencer, develop the broader skillsets to be the adventurous digital explorer.

A digital disruptor CIO: Traditional CIOs are often perceived as the tactical manager, controller, or order taker. But digital CIOs need to be the “ constructive disruptor,” to break down silos and “we always do things like that” mentality. IT should first disrupt itself because it’s been perceived as a cost center -” slow to change.” The first step first, CIOs should step out of a conventional thinking box or linear patterns, disrupt group thinking or comfort zone, in order to overcome change inertia. With rapid change and dynamic business environment, much more dangerous is the disengaged workforce to continue thinking in the box and doing things in the old way even the knowledge has been updated a quite long time ago and the circumstances have changed significantly. Technically, IT also needs to be the “disrupter” to break down some legacy systems, over-complicated organizational structures or redundant business processes. IT is neither just tools nor toys, it represents CHANGE. CIOs are neither just controllers nor order takers, they are strategic business partners and change agents, to run IT as the change organization of the business.

A digital transformer CIO: IT is no longer just “keeping the lights on.” There are very few businesses today can state that IT does not play a significant role in long-term strategic positioning. As a matter of fact, IT is the key differentiator for businesses across-sectors as those forward-looking companies declare they are in the information management businesses. Therefore, organizations need to take that into consideration when establishing strategic goals to manage digitalization systematically because they have to expand in different directions and take a structural approach. IT is the integrator of the business competency. In addition to the set point changing, transformation requires first shifting mindsets and then developing new skills, capabilities, reinforcing and embedding new practices/reflexes. The digital transformation efforts need to be undertaken as the means of getting to a differentiated business competency to accomplish a set of defined goals. The digital CIO should sit on the executive board as the “digital transformer” because it is critical that the CIO with IT department effectively enables and facilitates the business strategy and objectives, and ultimately orchestrates the digital transformation.

The digital CIOs are in demand to “disrupt,” inspire, innovate, and accelerate digital transformation. They need to become change agents for IT to enable and catalyze innovation, optimize business processes & structures, rejuvenate corporate culture and communication, and become the growth engine for running the high-performance digital organization.


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