In this digital era, it is critical, not only for IT but for an organisation, that their CIO is at the forefront of digital innovation and disruption. The CIO must be able to role model and create a customer centric mindset across IT where the customer is at the heart of everything the organisation does. The CIO and IT teams must be able to deliver and support business strategies in the face of some serious industry disruption and change.
The CIO should not just look to replicate what he/she did in other roles or concentrate on keeping the lights on. Whereas that may have been a strategy in the past, it certainly will not be good enough in this digital age.
Customers are expecting a more personalised experience from organisations they interact or buy services/products from.
In 2017, the approach of a CIO 3.0 to IT must be from the customer/user experience viewpoint, resolving and anticipating customer problems (through actionable data) not simply creating technology solutions looking for a problem.
What worked in a previous organisation/industry may not work for the current organisation or industry where strategy and solutions must be “personalised” to that organisation and its industry.
This is where the new breed of CIOs must constantly remain relevant, as Gartner puts it “staying relevant remains the biggest challenge for CIOs in 2017.”
CIOs as digital leaders and advocates
The CIO is in an ideal position within an organisation when it comes to leading transformation/change initiative. They can role model desired behaviours, create a collaborative culture, positively challenge the status quo, influence/support business stakeholders and set a vision and strategy that clearly details the desired transformation outcomes.
Ideally the CIO 3.0 has broad experience across industries as well as in the enterprise and start-up communities, so he/she will have received the benefit of working in a fast paced customer centric environment (e.g. UX, Agile design thinking CI/CD or Lean) with the ability to apply these insights to an enterprise organisation.
It’s still about your people and customers
The CIO must ensure they have or aim to have a digitally aware team that is multi-skilled, comfortable with rapid change (and, in some cases, ambiguity) and has a willingness to collaborate (across teams and business units) towards achieving a shared vision.
Above all they must always think of the customer with the aim of quickly delivering a positive and frictionless experience that is actively promoted. That said, happy customers and positive experiences can only occur when IT teams are happy and engaged, are empowered to make decisions and have the tools (both technology and training) to do their jobs.
With this in mind there are 4 key challenges for a CIO in 2017:
1. Attracting diverse talent
A great organisational culture, where people feel empowered, allows for innovation or creates time for personal development. Whatever the culture may be, it is super critical to attracting and retaining your people, whilst also providing a working environment that supports cross team working and collaboration. CIOs must show true empathy and listen to their people and key stakeholders so they are able to understand business drivers as well as being able to identify the root cause of any problem, rather than going straight to a solution.
To enable your team to innovate there must be a supportive culture in place, where your people have the time and freedom to innovate, and where they’re trusted and given authority to create and implement innovative solutions. To encourage innovation organisational leaders need to support innovation by removing inhibitors such as their day to day work. Another way to give your teams a chance to have their idea’s heard, could be in the form of a “Dragons Den” where ideas are pitched every month to senior leaders for possible implementation. If their idea is selected, they could then have a set period of time and budget to turn that idea into a product or service.
The skills required to keep up with the rapid rate change are also in high demand, such a security, UX/CX designer, data engineers, cloud and automation as well as software developers. You need the culture and environment to attract and retain these skilled people, the CIO is key role model in establishing the desired culture. If the CIO get the culture spot on existing teams will “sell” the benefits of working a particular organisation and therefore attracting great talent should be easier.
According to the 2016 Gartner survey, 22 per cent of CIOs say that having the relevant skill sets remains a barrier to success.
2. The rate of change
To keep up with the rapid rate of change/innovation, organisations must create dedicated innovation teams that can either be:
a) A separate group that funds and delivers initiatives (outside of a business unit) and then passes it over to the correct business unit to manage as a part of their BAU work.
b) Or a separate innovation group that funds the initiative to be delivered in conjunction with the appropriate business unit to MVP and it is then fully managed and funded within that business unit totally outside of the innovation group.
In both instances the CIO and IT teams must be able to rapidly respond to the needs of the innovation group and business units to enable rapid delivery of innovation through reusable architecture, processes and technology.
Pete Yates (@peteyatesnz) is head PMO, Operations, IT & Platforms at Spark Platforms at Spark Ventures, technology services group manager/CIO at Foster Moore, IS infrastructure manager at Auckland Council and Global Head of the Customer Ops Centre for a managed services provider based in the UK. He is also a regular contributor to CIO NZ as well as his own blog livingthetech.com
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