Friday, December 21, 2018

The Attributes of Being a Digital CIO (Part I)

The CIO of today must be able to transition confidently between the strategic and tactical. The priority for digital CIOs is to genuinely position IT as an integral and inseparable part of the business. 

With the increasing pace of changes and fast growth of information, clearly, the role of IT needs to be continually reimagined, refreshed, and reinvented; the position of CIO also experience the significant change as well. Generally speaking, the leadership roles such as CIO need to share the technological vision, break down conventional wisdom and lead their organization up toward the next growth cycle and catalyze digital transformation. Here is a set of attributes of being a digital CIO.

Vision: With continuous disruptions often driven by technology, IT becomes the key success factor of the long-term business success. The role of the CIO should be able to predict the emergent technological trends, envision not only where a company believes it is going, but how it will get there, and how it might be missing out opportunities or face the risks because of limitations on understanding of disruptive technology and information flow.“Keeping the lights on only” is simply not sufficient to run a highly effective IT organization. Vision is particularly important for CIOs because nowadays information and technology are often the game changer to either leap or fail the business even overnight. Digital CIOs need to be both the artist and technologist in boldly sharing IT vision and vividly imagining the business model of tomorrow while orchestrating the digital symphony for harmonizing key business factors to succeed in the business models of today. They need to master the art of creating unique and differentiating value from piles of commoditized technologies.

Multidimensional Intelligence: Due to the complex nature of the technology and multidisciplinary IT management practices, digital CIOs must master multidimensional thinking for making effective decisions and running a multidisciplinary IT. As a C-level business leader, the CIO should be good at strategic thinking to keep the end in mind, the end is the business vision and strategy because IT is the means to end, not the end itself. To diagnose the root cause and pinpoint the real issues, CIOs must practice critical thinking, to ensure IT is doing the right things (effectiveness) before doing things right (efficiency). As “Chief Innovation Officer,” CIOs need to be fluent with innovative thinking because creativity is one of the most important thinking processes to connect the dots between IT and business. Systems Thinking is also critical for digital CIOs because it is the thought process to understand the interconnectivity between parts and whole and discover the interconnectivity and interdependence of the digital business ecosystem.

Technology awareness
: More often than not, technology is the disruptive force behind the digital transformation. Thus, as an IT leader, CIOs should have technological vision and awareness, and understand what implies to the future of the business. A digital CIO with their finger on the pulse of technological advancement or information can provide many ideas on how new technologies and abundance of information could create fresh business opportunities. Digital CIOs with technological awareness, draw from their expertise and experience of those around them, crafting and casting the vision for the ways in which tomorrow’s business technologies can create sustainable business value. They can capture the digital technology trend and well apply the right technology to the business with a tailored solution. They are information-driven, understand how to turn information into valuable strategic insight, and actively use it in shaping the digital business.

Business acumen: With VUCA” digital new normal, digital leaders must have a greater awareness of business intricacies and systemic value of organizational systems, architectures, structures, processes, technology, people dynamics, resource allocation, supply-demand side variables, market variables, or economies of scale, etc. CIOs must be the business leader first, and IT manager second. It’s important for CIOs to both have business acumen and IT knowledge to ensure IT acting as an integral part of the business. Like any C-suite members, CIOs have to participate in forming the organization's strategy, its implementation, and assessing its performance. Within their understanding, they are responsible for highlighting evolving IT to the board members and their impact on the organization and its strategies. They have to make sure that IT strategy is an integral component of the business strategy, and all IT investments are aligned with the organization's strategy and the approved priorities.

Creativity: Creativity is seen as an important part of business future and civilization; without it, there will be no technology. One of the most proper titles for CIO is “Chief Innovation Officer.” Although it seems that most of IT operations involve analytical and logical work, some argue that it is the creative mind better suited for the top leadership role. Creative CIOs are in demand because creativity contributes to growth strategy, creativity contributes to an alternative solution to a problem, and creativity is appreciated by the end customer. Creative CIOs contribute to figure out new and uncommon way on how IT can contribute to the corporation and help the business make the right strategies with the growth mindset. Still, IT leadership and management are the teamwork. A CIO whose strength is management focusing on planning, logistics, and facilitation should make sure that she or he has some creative member on the leadership team for harnessing innovation, diplomacy, strategy. Likewise, if her or his strength is leadership such as envisioning, innovation, diplomacy, and strategy, and then they should have good managers in her leadership team for managing logistics and day to day operation.

The CIO of today must be able to transition confidently between the strategic and tactical. The priority for digital CIOs is to genuinely position IT as an integral and inseparable part of the business. It is critical for CIOs to be able to learn and understand the business and become a trusted and strategic business partner.


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