With digital data increasingly driving performance, it takes a strong, forward-thinking champion to make sure your organisation embraces that shift effectively, says Nick Easen, writing for Raconteur.
These days the role of chief information officer (CIO) goes way beyond overseeing your company’s computer technology. With businesses from all sectors adopting a digital-first strategy, the CIO holds a transformational position.
As the value of physical assets dwindles, every section of your business could soon be dependent on technological solutions, from finance and human resources, to production and delivery of goods and services. You only need to look at online companies like Airbnb for accommodation, LinkedIn for recruitment, Uber for transport and Netflix in television to see which way the wind is blowing.
Nick Easen quotes Mark Lillie, global CIO programme leader at Deloitte, who says: “This is the most exhilarating time to be a CIO. It is the most exciting position in the boardroom right now. The whole of the organisation needs to understand this because the most innovative in the boardroom already do.”
WHAT IS THE CHALLENGE?
The growth in CIO responsibility has developed so rapidly that it’s easy to lag behind. You and your CIO could face some major hurdles, but fully embracing digitisation is the pivotal starting point.
- Every significant decision your company makes will need to be underpinned by relevant and well-handled digital data. It’s up to the CIO to source it, gather it, process it and manage it with unprecedented speed and accuracy.
- While digital change has gained momentum rapidly in the last five to ten years, your teams and operations may not be up to speed. The CIO will not only need to update systems, but also attempt to alter the mindsets of those with pre-digital Luddite attitudes.
- “Expectations to deliver are huge. There are still many constrained cultures, as well as legacy systems to tackle, which are the bane of the CIO’s life,” writes Easen.
- CIOs who are technical wizards are used to finding solutions rather than offering up answers to be employed by others. Those who have no general business experience may struggle.
- CIOs now need to be clear and confident communicators, handing executives the tools their departments need to thrive in the digital era. Ironically, the best CIOs should eventually put themselves out of a job.
HARNESS THE TOOL YOU HAVE
Easen describes the multiple skills required of a new-style CIO as “a big ask” but suggests a couple of moves that could help:
1) Reverse mentoring. Ask younger digital-savvy executives to mentor their senior counterparts to illustrate the potential benefits of data-driven, digital-first tactics.
2) Thinking time. Put together groups drawn from different company teams to brainstorm innovative possibilities thrown up by a digital-first culture.
With such fundamental change in progress, a wise and innovative leader will discover exactly how their CIO can help them shape a thriving digitised future for their whole organisation – and not just the IT department.