As a CIO it can be all too easy to feel overwhelmed by the decisions that you have to make: mobile devices, clouds, security, arrrgh! The CIOs that I’m working with are looking for clear directions on what they should be spending their time on. My advice to them is that they need to pick a few key questions that are closely tied to the overall business. Once they can answer these questions, everything else will take care of itself. The key is to know what questions to spend your time answering…
Who Is Implementing The Company’s Digital Strategy?
It’s not that the company doesn’t know that it needs to use the IT department to become more competitive. It’s just that it really doesn’t know HOW to use its IT department.
Firms often like to pull together teams to address issues. Situations such as delayed product development, missed deliveries, or even increased competition are all reasons for doing some internal brainstorming – nothing wrong here.
However, where things can go wrong is if a firm allows the IT team that they used to identify the solution to a particular company problem to implement that solution. The reason that this can cause problems is actually very simple: most IT managers have a scope that is limited to a single department or business unit. They simply don’t know how to implement an IT solution that extends across the entire company.
This is where the CIO needs to step in and assign a single owner to this type of project. That owner needs to have enough seniority that they’ll be able to get the respect of all of the various departments in the company that will need to cooperate in order to successfully implement the company-wide IT change.
Is Digital Data Making The Company More Or Less Productive?
If there is one thing that the IT sector has done for businesses over the past few years, it is to provide them with more data. Data on products, sales, customers, prices, returns, etc. Now that all of this data exists, CIOs need to step in and help everyone understand what to do with the data.
One of the key questions that the CIO needs to help a company’s senior leadership to answer is who should be using the mountain of data that the IT department is collecting? The two choices are for senior management to use it to make decisions which will then be communicated down to the rank & file workers or to push the data out to the front-line employees and allow them to use it to make day-to-day decisions.
Both solutions work. Empowering the individual workers to use the data collected by the IT department turns out to be the more powerful of the two approaches. Additionally, it can result in greater worker involvement in their job and this can lead to higher employee retention.
What All Of This Means For You
CIOs know the importance of information technology. However, they don’t always know how to go about making sure that their company gets the most out of the technologies that can help them the most.
The staff in an IT department who provide the definition of information technology solutions for the company are not necessarily the ones who should be assigned to implement it. The farther the reach of an IT solution (across departments or across functions) the more challenging it will be for IT staff who work within those groups to implement a good solution.
Likewise, IT departments collect a great deal of information for their companies. It’s what the IT departments allow to be done with this data that really counts: is it pushed down to the workers who can best use it?
CIOs are not only responsible for managing the IT department so that the company can move faster, but they are also responsible for making sure that IT solutions are implemented correctly and that data gets to where it can do the most good. By focusing on just a few key questions, CIOs can maximize their impact on the rest of the company.
Question For You: What do you think is the best way to implement IT solutions that will impact the entire company?
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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
If there is one thing that CIOs hate it’s red tape – bureaucratic roadblocks that keep the IT department from doing what it is supposed to be doing. The very definition of information technology is that it moves fast and adapts to dynamic situations – exactly what a company’s bureaucratic processes and barriers to success seem to be designed to prevent. What CIOs need is a good role model for how to make this problem go away, it turns out that an American car company may be just the one to provide this…