Being a CIO today is definitely a real challenge. The world seems to be moving faster than it ever has before and between pandemics and hiring challenges, it seems as though a CIO’s work is never done. However, if there is one thing that a CIO understands, it’s that everything changes. This, of course, means that we have to change. However, we have to make sure that we understand what is coming our way so that we know how to change correctly.
The Challenge Of Change
I think that we can all agree that perhaps there’s no worse time than now to be a fairly average CIO. The reason for this is because right now there is intense pressure on CIOs. For years, your company’s executives have stressed the need for CIOs to move beyond simply managing IT to also leveraging technology to create value for the business. This priority has now become a requirement. New technologies have been at the center of a number of trends. These include everything from mobile-first consumer shopping preferences to the promise of artificial intelligence in critical decision making. They have reshaped the competitive landscape and disrupted business models. For this reason, companies now need to be tech forward: technology needs to drive the business.
Every CIO can agree that this is a pressing need. However, of the organizations that have pursued digitization, 79 percent of them are still in the early stages of their technology transformation. It is understandable that legitimate factors are delaying progress, from the scale of the change to the mind-boggling complexity of legacy systems. Is it possible that one of the biggest issues is that many CIOs have not accepted the degree to which their role needs to expand beyond cost and performance responsibilities in order to transform IT into a core driver of business value?
Before understanding the new responsibilities that CIOs now need to take on, it’s important to understand the nature of tech transformations themselves. In most cases, tech transformations are implemented as a set of disjointed initiatives across a company’s IT landscape. All too often this leads promising developments to stall out or underdeliver for the company. It has been found that a tech transformation must be holistic in order to deliver full business value. As an example, creating powerful customer experiences requires a data architecture to track and make sense of customer behavior. In order to architect modular platforms a CIO needs revamped approaches to hiring in order to get top-flight engineers.
Managing The Transformation
In order to be successful, a CIO has to first come to terms with the scope of the transformation itself. A good way to go about doing this is to think about it along three separate vectors:
- Attempt to reimagine the role of technology in the organization. This vector includes creating the role of technology as a business and innovation partner to design a tech-forward business strategy, integrate tech management across organizational silos, and find ways to deliver excellent user experiences.
- Reinvent how the company delivers technology. IT needs to change how it functions by embracing the agile philosophy; improving IT services with next-generation capabilities such as end-to-end automation, platform as a service, and cloud; building small teams around top engineers; and finding ways to developing flexible tech partnerships.
- Future-proof the company’s foundation. To keep pace with rapid technological advancements, CIOs need to implement a flexible architecture supported by modular platforms, enable company-wide data ubiquity, and protect systems using advanced cybersecurity.
CIOs have to realize that an effective talent strategy requires a culture that supports talent. This means that we need to find ways to build a true engineering community Yes, pay matters, of course, but your top people want to go where they’re valued. CIOs can create this kind of environment by providing engineers with more autonomy by reducing the number of managers that they report to and eliminate often-bureaucratic processes, such as time-consuming reports and multiple rounds of approval. Creating ways for cohorts of similar skill sets to get together can be a powerful way to share best practices and foster a sense of community within the company. The CIO must attend and actively participate.
In the past, IT transformations that have been attempted have often proven expensive, time consuming, and short on value, and this has made some companies leery of undertaking them again. To address this issue and build trust, the best CIOs need to play an active role in educating leaders about technologies and their applications for the business. What we need to do is to make the business implications of each tech decisions clear to all involved. Many of our tech decisions don’t get sufficient business scrutiny beyond cost and high-level strategy discussions. Transformative CIOs will not settle for that kind of interaction, instead articulating how a proposed solution solves the underlying business problem, what alternative approaches exist, and the pros and cons of each. These skills are the tools that enable a CIO’s ability to transform their IT department. And in an increasingly tech-driven business landscape, they position CIOs as a legitimate contender to lead the business as well.
What All Of This Means For You
In the world of CIOs, change is a constant. CIOs have become under more and more pressure from the rest of the company because we are now being expected to use IT to transform the rest of the business. Most companies are early on in this process. It can be all too easy for a technology transformation to occur in way that ends up not benefiting the company. CIOs have to start things out by finding a way to deal with the scope of the transformation that is being planned. CIOs have to make sure that the company’s culture supports the people who work in their department. CIOs have to make sure that the company’s leaders are kept informed about any transformation as it occurs.
CIOs have always been looked at as being leaders within the company. We are the ones who have been responsible for keeping our eyes open for new technologies as they appear and then finding ways for the company to adopt them. However, in today’s modern age the company is now looking to us to lead the entire company forward. This means that we are going to have to work twice as hard and make sure that we know what changes the company has to make and then help the company to make them. If we can show the company the way forward, we can help them to be successful.
Question For You: What is the best way for a CIO to keep the rest of the company informed on a technology transformation?
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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
As the person with the CIO job, it’s also your job to make smart hiring decisions. You want to invite the right set of managers to join your IT department so that you can share the importance of information technology with the rest of the company. However, it turns out that this is not a simple thing to do. It can be all too easy to hire the wrong person if we don’t know how to go about doing this task correctly. CIOs need to find a better way to get the best managers to join their IT departments.