A New Year, A New CIO

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As we ring in a new year, enterprises are reaching a technology tipping point. According to our Digital IQ survey, almost 50% of technology spending is outside of the CIO’s budget. This data begs the question: is it possible for CIOs to continue to influence how the enterprise is leveraging technology? The short answer is yes, but CIOs need to transform their approach to leadership. The New Year calls for a new CIO.

The top-down days of leadership are over. Budgets, standards, procurement and governance…these concepts of control are central to the CIO’s playbook, but they are increasingly irrelevant as CIOs lose the ability to dictate how technology dollars are spent. Rather than instituting rules, CIOs must inspire executives across the enterprise to follow their lead. The measure of a successful CIO is shifting from how well the IT department functions to whether or not the entire enterprise has the ability to both drive and deflect digital disruption.

If CIOs are Pied Piper, the music is the “art of the possible.” Through a bold vision combined with deep listening, CIOs must guide the organization in maximizing technology’s full potential. The old C-I-O stood for Control, Infrastructure and Organization. The new C-I-O stands for Catalyst, Integration and Outside-in. Let me explain.

From Control to Catalyst or Consultant or Communicator

CIOs have no choice but to shift from one who controls technology spending to a catalyst who sparks action. The best way to persuade the enterprise to push the boundaries of technology is to build relationships and introduce big ideas through demos. CIOs need to use demos to show the enterprise how business goals can be accomplished through the hands-on exploration of emerging technology.

From Infrastructure to Integration

Shadow IT has led to siloed systems such as SaaS and cloud applications that have to be integrated so businesses can get the most value out of them. Gluing together best of breed solutions isn’t new for CIOs. Integration was a critical skill set as we used middleware to stitch together CRM and ERP systems. But integrating legacy systems with digital is different. CIOs need to take a hard look at their team’s integration skills to make sure they are up to speed.

From Organization to Outside-in

In the past, we haven’t looked very far for inspiration to innovate. Most corporations have a history of learning about new technologies by tapping a few trusted vendors, attending a conference or two and reading a handful of trade publications. For the most part, organizations have turned their gazes inward toward their own organizations for innovation ideas. In the age of digital where new technologies are plentiful, CIOs need to lead the charge of outside-in innovation, looking outside to communities such as makers, contests, crowd funding sites and global innovation hubs for inspiration.

The role of the CIO is undergoing a seismic shift and it’s creating a great deal of uncertainty and angst. Change is difficult, but it’s also exciting as it leads us to discover strengths and interests that we didn’t even know we had. It’s incredible what we can achieve when the future is on the line, as it is now. For CIOs to come out on the other side of this haze, they need to make themselves “tomorrow ready” by reshaping their roles today.

image shared by Prachanart Viriyaraks

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