How CIOs Can Position The IT Department For Success

The CIO needs to guide the IT department to success
The CIO needs to guide the IT department to success
Image Credit: Fran Hidalgo Carmona

As the person with the CIO job, it’s your responsibility to make sure that the IT department is successful. In order to do that, you need to be able to lead the department in the right direction in order to realize the importance of information technology. What this means is that you have to plan, organize and launch new strategies and initiatives. Changes in business trends, security issues and increasing government oversight of many IT activities, combined with a seemingly never-ending series of disruptive technologies, make it essential to be thinking about tactics and goals all the time. How should a CIO go about doing this?

Collaborate With Business Leaders To Assess IT Services And Goals

The CIO has to work to ensure that IT is a business partner, not an order-taker. We need to schedule meetings with key enterprise leaders to review IT’s business value based on projects completed in the previous year and how IT can support the next year’s business goals. We should participate in the budgeting cycle and help ensure that funds are in the right places for the strategy — don’t leave it up to your business partners to do this on their own!

This type of an approach will position the CIO as the enterprise IT thought leader while providing a convenient launching pad for IT’s business mission. This plan also enables transparency into the business of IT, providing a basic framework for measuring high-level results and allowing ongoing measurements against those results.

Find Ways To Control Disruption

CIOs need to realize that business and technology disruption trends will continue to evolve as we move forward. The good news is that IT has an increased responsibility and opportunity to help organizations stay ‘future ready’. CIOs should create a transformation management office to identify promising new technologies and methods, and to administer transformation initiatives.

We need to allow our IT departments to be proactive about issues before they happen by creating a six- to twelve-month roadmap. A simple way to create a plan like this is to look at future ideas using a weighting system to determine which initiatives to prioritize. If you spend your time dealing with issues day-to-day, and you’re not planning ahead, your organization is always going to be at a higher risk.

Be Sure To Centralize Data Analytics

In most companies, IT departments have been responsible for data collection, storage and management. The job of data analysis, meanwhile, is usually handled within individual business units. As more enterprises begin understanding data analytics’ strategic importance, and as analytics are increasingly performed on a much larger scale and in real time, there’s an emerging trend towards moving to a more centralized data analytics approach.

If the person in the CIO position wants successful analytics, then it will require IT engineers and data scientists to work closely with each other and with business units to develop solutions and generate useful insights. The IT department, or sometimes the IT department and a separate analytics department, ends up driving the organizations’ analytics capability.

Always Stay On Top Of Security

It is the responsibility of the CIO to always be evaluating enterprise security and IT’s role in protecting systems and data. We need to take some time to move from firefighting mode, and work with the team to think about the big picture — about 18 months out — and attack foundational security tasks. It turns out that evergreen security topics are still relevant today, because IT teams are unable to take the time to get those basics in place.

CIOs need to create space for security experts within the IT team, particularly if a dedicated security team isn’t available. Over time organizations can catch onto the importance of security, not only from a common sense must-protect-data perspective, but also as a business strategy.

Given the seriousness of the threat, CIOs need to make security risk management integral to all business and IT decisions. Understanding the risk tolerance levels, and how that informs the team’s strategy will help the organization in the long run in terms of investments and assurance to clients.

What All Of This Means For You

COs and their IT organizations need to move away from their service provider roots to become an active participant in creating and enhancing business value. Moving forward, it’s not enough for IT departments to keep the lights on and the organization safe.

Our success in the future starts with understanding what the organizational, personal and functional goals are, and then working backwards to demonstrate how IT departments can become a change-agent. CIOs who can find a way to do this are the ones who will be the most successful.

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: What can CIOs do today in order to prepare for disruptions that may happen tomorrow?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

As CIOs we will eventually go looking for our next CIO job. When we do this, we need to be prepared to answer plenty of questions on various technology, business and personal topics. However, before any employment meeting ends, it’s always a good idea for you to toss a few probing questions back to the interviewer. Keep in mind that as the potential employer seeks to ensure that you’ll be able to perform professionally and productively, you’ll be risking nothing less than your reputation and future career path on commitments made during this interview. What types of questions should we be asking during our CIO job interview?