Why The C-suite Must Talk Tech, Now

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Guest post by Gerard Verweij

Most C-suite executives aren’t accustomed to collaborating with each other on technology strategy and execution. It might seem awkward, unnecessary and burdensome for the CIO to bring in multiple C-suite colleagues like the Chief Legal Officer or Chief Human Resources Officer, for example. However, they need to get used to the idea, and fast.

Technology spending is spreading like a brushfire across the business. Technology is no longer the sole responsibility of the CIO. Technology is every senior executive’s opportunity as well as problem. Risk and redundancy are running rampant and it’s difficult to maximize technology investments due to a lack of integration.

If the C-suite wants to harness technology’s full potential, they need to cultivate the conditions where technology collaboration can thrive. That means tackling the following structural and cultural areas:

1) Build a Foundation for Collaboration with the Right CIO

The first thing senior level executives should do is redefine the role of CIO and assess if the current CIO is capable of bringing the C-suite together to collaborate. The CIO is no longer a procurer and distributor of technology products, but an orchestrator of technology services, an innovator, and a facilitator of enterprise wide integration. Is the current CIO the right executive to play an instrumental role in cultivating a culture of technology collaboration across the company, from the top down and the bottom up? Is he or she equipped to usher in a new era of innovation and integration?

2) Banish the Belief that Collaboration is a Burden

C-suite executives want to move fast, so they often fly solo in silos. They think collaborating with other senior leaders and business department heads will invariably slow them down and complicate their initiatives. Ironically, it’s the lack of collaboration that holds them back from making the impossible, possible. This misperception that collaboration is a burden thwarts the enterprise’s collective power and must be overcome so enterprises can make big things happen.

3) Create Shared Responsibility with Key Performance Indicators Specific to Technology

Technology isn’t like finance with clearly defined and relatively easily measured key performance indicators. C-suite executives will need to establish customized criteria based on unique business goals to evaluate the effectiveness of technology enablement such as time to market and user adoption rates. Establishing measures that the C-suite can rally around will create a sense of shared responsibility and help ensure that progress is made.

More than ever, technology is the engine of enterprise growth and innovation. The C-suite must adapt by talking technology. They need to have a deep understanding of technology, they need to have a handle on technology trends and they need to work together so the potential of technology investments can be fully realized and risk and redundancy reduced. It’s up to senior leaders to serve as the gravitational force that will bring the enterprise together around technology. Doing so will enable them to create a differentiated customer experience, engage employees in a meaningful way, disrupt their marketplace and drive accelerated growth.

Image shared by Richard Rutter

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