When someone achieves the role of CIO, it usually represents many years of study, many years’ experience in the industry and the acquisition of specific skills. This experience must be used in the most effective manner. Focused on technology.
So much is written about CIOs needing to change the way they work, their focus and their need to expand their capabilities. Does the CFO or the COO also need to do that, maybe adding IT to their skill set? Many commentators predict the demise of the CIO if they don’t broaden their horizons and keep focusing on IT projects.
The commentary mentions leadership skills but if a CIO doesn’t have these already, should they be in the C-Suite? Business strategy is another attribute but who is to say the CIO doesn’t have that either, particularly if they take notice and contribute in executive meetings. Marketing skills? If there is a CMO, why should the CIO need these skills, other than a broad knowledge?
Having questioned the prevailing commentary, there are attributes which the CIO or any other C-Suite executive must have for an organisation to be successful.
Leadership. Mandatory for any senior position. Someone in a senior position who is not able to lead a team is doomed to failure. A CIO needs to have a team which is flexible and agile, with team members who are innovative in the use of technology, not just maintaining it. A CIO should know how to spread the technology message throughout an organisation simply and succinctly, ditch the jargon. The focus is on technology.
Business nous. No-one can work in isolation anymore, silos are out. To be effective the CIO must know and understand the business goals and the strategy to achieve them, this will only be achieved by regular communication with colleagues across the board. This doesn’t require an MBA, common sense, asking questions and listening will work. Knowing the challenges, issues and goals of one’s colleagues will inevitably shape the goals of IT. Using technology to achieve the business outcomes should be a core focus of the IT group, so yes, this is a focus on IT projects.
Change managers. The CIO is the best person to lead technology change. Being proactive, proposing technology solutions to effect business strategies demonstrates a keen understanding of the organisation and consolidates the CIO’s position as a key member of the executive. As technology has an impact on the majority of roles and processes, it will be a key reason why a business succeeds. The change could be moving infrastructure to the cloud, a brave and innovative move. Technology as the driver of change, another IT focus.
Futurist. Keeping abreast of new and emerging technologies and how they apply to the organisation is critical. Technology changes rapidly, so the whole IT team must be involved in this process, with so many areas to cover such as mobility, UC, the cloud and so on, it makes sense to have team members looking at key areas, sharing the knowledge. Insights and ideas should also be encouraged, empowered staff will often think outside the square. IT must be recognised for keeping up with or exceeding the pace of the business.
Customers. Both internal and external customers are important in how technology is deployed and used. Technology is only relevant when it meets their needs. The CIO must regularly communicate with all customers to successfully deliver the best solutions.
In a competitive world where technology can make or break a business, where technological innovation keeps an organisation ahead of the competition, why wouldn’t you have a knowledgeable and skilful CIO who has a focus on IT projects?