It’s hard to believe that it was over 30 years ago the word CIO was first mentioned. And yes during this period, the leadership and value that CIOs contributed to organizations has changed from an operational type management function to strategic and becoming part of senior management. But recently organizations have started to question the long-term need for a strategic CIO function.
Why are they questioning it? Do they think that technology doesn’t play an important role in their organization? No. Technology is part of every business function, but it is increasingly viewed as operational, not as a strategic differentiator. Have CIOs then come full circle, from operational to strategic to back to operational? Yes. Is there a way to avoid this? Maybe. If CIOs are willing to include leading change in their portfolio and start acting as the Change Information Officer.
How can the CIO make the transition? For some people it will be easier than others. In order to change, CIOs need to understand the business and should:
1. Lead change by looking from the “outside in.” Direct the focus outside of the IT organization not inwards, working with business colleagues, providing executive leadership, guiding and coaching.
2. Demonstrate business value of IT. CIOs need to work with their business colleagues to show how technology is helping to bring about change: whether it is improving customer service levels, revenue or show the impact that IT investment can make on the business side. This requires collaboration with business managers and leaders. Such initiative takes a lot of networking and working together side-by-side.
3. Improve IT governance to be transparent about how IT decisions are made! Project prioritization should occur in a business planning meeting based on everyone’s buy-in and agreement rather than just within IT.
4. Lead the change management. Unfortunately, few senior business executives are skilled in leading all the major changes necessary to capture value from major IT-intensive initiatives. That is where the effective CIO comes in; being the change leader, ensuring that all the projects have a change management component and than working with the business to implement change is a way that CIOs will be more strategic.
The CIO of the next decade will be working with the business and lead the change management initiatives to ensure that technology enables the business goals. Are there other areas where CIOs can make a difference? It’d be great to hear everyone’s view!