Friday, October 26, 2018

The CIO as Digital Modernist II

Due to the disruptive nature of technologies and exponential growth of information, IT leadership has to be continually reimagined, refined, refreshed, and re-energized. 

The modern IT is not equal to IT modernization, it goes a step further, becomes the change agent of the company, doing more with innovation and solving problems creatively. The CIOs are digital modernists who lead through influence, not through brute forces; who not only enforce the engineering side of IT but also stimulate the creative side of IT for reaching “the art of possible.” Here are three perspectives of CIOs as digital modernists.

Trendsetter, not fashionista: With“VUCA” digital new normal –volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity, business leaders couldn’t predict the future with a certain degree of accuracy. Information and technology play a critical role in leading changes. The CIO is a serious partner in the inner circle to share the technological vision and co-develop the value-added business strategies, enabling deeper insight into the opportunities IT can do. Digital CIOs are trendsetter, not fashionista though. For running a future-driven digital organization, digital CIOs have better sense to capture business trends, move energy to a higher level by offering a clear vision of what is possible, have the insight to understand things holistically; respect the diversified point of view, in order to navigate the business toward the uncharted water and blurred business territories confidently. The CIO as the digital modernist can help to bridge between the innovations of tomorrow with the business realities of today. Running a future-driven organization starts with the growth mindset and follows with progressive activities. Keep in mind though, IT is not just about some shining technology toys, and CIOs are not the fashionista. They should try new technologies when there are clear returns that can't be found in the existing technologies, of course with great care on the potential risks.

Connect the dots, paint colors, and discover their digital formulas as well: Running digital IT is both science and art. The artistic side of engineering is about imagination, innovation, and invention. There are very progressive organizations where IT sparks organizational creativity. CIOs as digital modernists know how to connect unusual dots for sparkling connectivity, as well as paint the colors for creating business values. Many perceive engineering as an art because it involves personalized observation and judgment, design thinking, intuition, and innovation. IT needs to embed art into the science to explore the art of possible. Thus, CIOs as digital modernists are the bridge between art and science. Can digital CIOs make abstract impressionism or contemporary art? In fact, the CIO as “Chief Innovation Officer” is never about managing status quo. IT must be willing to take constructive criticism from customers and turn the beating, lashing, and criticism into opportunities to spark creative ideas. The diversity of thoughts is a facilitator for merging significant building blocks of new and existing ideas and concepts. The digital IT paints an excellent picture of the business interaction and independence of the expanded digital ecosystem. The engineering side of IT also enables it to take a logical path to implement ideas as well as to discover scientific formulas and figure out solutions to most types of problems. The technologist CIOs can summarize digital formulas, not about promoting "one size fits all" solutions, but focusing on setting digital principles and sharing the best practices and "lessons learned."

Creative communicator, art critic and polyglot: Digital IT is designed for changes, understanding and communicating the business strategy is a beautiful thing. CIOs have one of the most influential positions within the business because they oversee underlying business functions and processes. CIOs are the digital modernists to lead changes and drive innovation. They are skeptical about conventional understanding of the problems so that they examine everything before accepting it for its real truth or advising it to others. They are the fiercest critic to themselves, they are also hunting for constructive criticism and smart skepticism as the hidden gems for themselves and their organizations. Modern digital CIOs have to play different roles and communicate with different audiences such as boards, business partners, customers, and vendors, etc, fluently. Digital CIOs are business polyglots who can speak different business dialects such as business, IT, architecture, finance jargon, etc, in order to act as a business interpreter to bridge the gaps. CIOs who practice creative communication with openness can help others contextualize better as well as demonstrate trust and promote IT as a trustful business partner.

Due to the disruptive nature of technologies and exponential growth of information, IT leadership has to be continually reimagined, refined, refreshed, and re-energized. Every CIO is different and whatever the management team needs or wants at the time out of the CIO will also be different, and by type of business needs will be different. But generally speaking, CIOs are no longer just glorified geeks, they are business savvy strategists and open-minded digital modernists. Digital-driven CIOs are the vanguard and innovative leader to make things better and advance, focus on solving problems effectively for leading the business’s digital transformation journey systematically and effortlessly.

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