Friday, April 12, 2019

Three Perspectives of Strategic CIOs

The strategic CIOs are in demand to evolve digital dynamic and reinvent IT as a strategic business partner, with ultimate goals to reach the zenith of digital maturity.

Due to the exponential growth of information and continuous disruptions often led by technologies, the business will not just use IT as a digital extension, but leverage IT across their organization to attain the enterprise-wide digital competencies. CIOs have to be the strategic business leader to lead, advise, and execute proactively, with the goal of clarifying the direction for the whole company to follow and developing the best and next practices for accelerating performance. Here are three perspectives of strategic CIOs.

CIOs need to be the strategic thinker: Strategic thinking is about keeping the end in mind. IT is impacting every business unit and is becoming the driver of business change. The difference between the tactical and strategic IT leader is that the first one thinks about the tools while the second one is thinking about business, and how to leverage the tools to gain an advantage over competitors. A strategic thinking CIO is a big picture person who sets the direction to lead the organization forward by keeping the strategic business goals in mind and doesn't leave the critical goals solely to businesses, utilizes information and leverages IT to achieve them smoothly. To improve IT organizational maturity, the good strategy with thought-out planning is paramount to make IT striking the right balance between long-term perspective and short-term problem fixing. Strategic CIOs are proactive, energetic, engaged, seek to engage others; they can communicate effectively with all levels of the organization and take systematic approaches to solve business problems, not just fixing the symptoms. Strategic CIOs have a better chance to create a blue ocean for providing a competitive advantage to the organization because they can leverage multidimensional thinking via different lenses to understand business complexity and its dynamic ecosystem. They can build a good strategy based on the circumstances that will allow the highest probability of success and management risks effectively. A good strategy includes consideration of competitive forces in the market place and the differentiative competencies you should build for gaining the long-term business advantage.

Running IT as a strategic business partner: The CIO is a serious partner in the inner circle to creating value-added strategies and enabling deeper insights into the opportunities IT can provide. Thus, the digital CIOs must move away from being a pure IT manager to becoming a true business partner and top strategist in order to run IT as a strategic business partner. IT organizations must be able to contribute to the future business strategy by leveraging technology as a means to an end, not the end itself. Strategic IT leaders have to build up the strong partnership with executive peers, business managers, and other service providers, manage a mixed bag of diversified vendors, multifaceted partnerships, co-ownership of ventures and companies, etc, within digital ecosystem, run in a very entrepreneur fashion to solve business problems effectively and holistically. To enforce IT leadership role, CIOs should be a mentor and strategic partner for executives and business management, to clarify the impact of information & technology, interpret the IT role in the strategic transformations of the company to ensure the executive and management teams on the same page to move forward in the right direction.

Lead strategic initiatives proactively: Making the IT department a profit center is one of the biggest challenges in most organizations. More and more enterprises are leveraging IT for revenue generating initiatives; what some refer to running IT "as the business." Strategic CIOs should become a critical link to the business being successful. IT will not "be the business" if it does not focus on the top prioritized business initiatives. Whether a CIO should take the lead in strategic initiatives is predicated on whether they are a trusted source of cross-discipline information. With the growth in enterprises leveraging IT for revenue-generating initiatives, CIOs should get involved to make sure the technology selected will actually work and can be supported, or even practice the bold leadership with cautious attitude to driving strategic initiatives proactively. They need to make an objective assessment of the change or learning curves, the roadblocks or pitfalls on the way; identify the supporters or detractors; the problems or symptoms, etc, in order to lead change steadfastly. Strategic IT leaders are in a unique position to oversee business structures; align people, process, and technology with the strategic planning; assign the right people in the right positions to maximize strategy execution for helping the organization win in the marketplace and propel the company far in front of the competitions.

Information permeates to every corner of today's enterprise and digital technologies are lightweight and powerful. IT leadership holds the keys to making the company more effective, efficient, and implementing process and procedures that drive the company to the next level of business growth and maturity. The strategic CIOs are in demand to evolve digital dynamic and reinvent IT as a strategic business partner, with ultimate goals to reach the zenith of digital maturity.


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