I firmly believe that the reason that any firm has a CIO is so that they have someone who can drive the company’s IT department to provide services and support that will enable the rest of the business to grow faster. It really is that simple – if you can leverage your IT department to support what the business is trying to do, then you’ll be more successful. Of course, this only works if the CIO is doing his / her job…
First You Need Respect
Bob Evans (no, not the breakfast sausage Bob Evans) over at InformationWeek has been thinking about why, of all of a company’s senior leadership, CIOs seem to be the ones who get the least amount of respect.
His conclusions are that the world at large believes that CIOs lack the business skills that are needed in order to have a seat at a company’s strategy steering table. It doesn’t help that all too often CIOs tend to talk using technology terms that seem to go right over the heads of the rest of the business.
If CIOs are to take the reins of the IT department and turn it into the engine that allows the rest of the company to move faster, then there are 5 things that they need to STOP doing.
#1: Stop Avoiding Customers
In order to provide the firm with the tools and services that it needs to meet the needs of its current and potential customers, CIOs need to be spending time meeting with customers. It’s all too easy to become focused on internal issues, cost cutting, and staffing challenges. Get out and talk to customers in order to find out what you REALLY need to be doing to support the company.
#2: Stop Avoiding Change
It is all too easy for an incoming CIO to adopt the “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” mentality. However, even as you read this the world is being changed by the arrival of Twitter, the long rumored Apple tablet PC, etc. Changes of this magnitude mean that everything must be constantly reconsidered by the CIO in order to find ways to allow the company to move faster and perform better.
#3: Stop Doing Projects Based On “Gut Feel”
Microsoft is getting ready to come out with a new operating system. Should the firm upgrade all of its PCs? Good question. The answer lies in another question: how would upgrading those PCs help the company achieve its business goals? Could the money be spent on something else that would do a better job of achieving those goals? It’s the ability to justify projects based on solid business reasons and not “gut feel” that has been missing from the way that CIOs have been doing business.
#4: Stop Spending So Much On Support
We’re not just talking about money here, we’re also talking about time. Everyone seems to be hung up on the 80/20 rule when it comes to support / new business. Over at HP they’ve found a way to do it, so why can’t everyone else?
#5: Stop Supporting Stereotypes Of CIOs
Evans points out that both at the online version of CIO magazine as well as over at Fortune magazine, disparaging things have been said about the role that CIOs play in firms. CIOs need to stand up and push back – as long as reporters and press are allowed to push them around, they will. CIOs need to start to publicize the fact that their departments are powerful enablers that the firm desperately needs in order to stay ahead of the pack.
No senior leadership position is easy to perform these days. However, CIOs have the double burden of having to stay in front of a rapidly changing technological wave as well as being intimately connected to what’s going on in the firm’s business. This can be done; however, in order to be successful, CIOs need to stop doing things that produce more harm than good.
Questions For You
How often does your CIO meet with customers: once a week, once a month, or once in a blue moon? Does your CIO talk about change or does he/she actually cause it to happen? Does your CIO have the ability to turn off the technology talk and turn on the business talk? Leave me a comment and let me know what you are thinking.
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Coming Up Next Time
The role of aÃ‚Â CIO in any organization is to find ways to enable the company to be more successful. Underlying all of these different ways to assist the business there is one area that every CIO must master first: providing great internal communications. An opportunity to radically transform how a firm’s employees communicate has arrived and it’s time for CIOs to step up and lead the charge…