From the infamous article by Nicholas Carr in 2003 on “Does IT matter?” to the many recent LinkedIn discussions on “Will the CIO role cease to exist?”, the focus on answering the question has been in the context of IT staying the way it is today when the world around is changing.
I would argue in any ecosystem if the spices remained stagnant it will extinct. So the question is not whether IT matters or CIO role will exist, but if IT as a species has to outlive, then what changes and transformations it need to go through, what role the CIOs need to play as leaders in this digital world.
“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” – Charles Darwin
In my opinion the New Breed CIOs need to get comfortable with these Six ‘I’s*:
1. Chief of Infrastructure: This is a table-stake capability. As a CIO, you don’t get a seat at the table if the email availability is at 70%. However, infrastructure agility and efficiency can be differentiators in a SaaS / High-Tech industry, as it directly translates to revenue and time to market. With intrusion of IoT, CIOs have an opportunity to play an active role in managing the Operational Infrastructure (OT).
2. Chief of Integration: With the raise of Cloud, IT’s role have shifted from Builder to Integrator. Every IT professional has witnessed the following situation – BU decides to subscribe to be a SaaS application which bring immediate benefit to their function, but the value cease quickly unless the service gets integrated into the rest of the corporate ecosystem. A hybrid Integration architecture becomes a key differentiator for delivery velocity.
3. Chief of Intelligence: Data is a potential currency. To monetize, it requires translation into actionable intelligence. With solid integration architecture, no data goes wasted. Gartner’s new digital platform puts intelligence as a glue across the 4 pillars of the ecosystem. In the world of intelligence, I believe IT needs to lead deep learning architecture, Security & governance of data and enable self-service BI for business users.
4. Chief of Innovation – Innovation is the core of transformation and change. This could span from leveraging technology innovation for new business model to process innovations in how to run IT like a business. A good example is the financial planning approach. Most of the IT organizations are used to having a yearly budget allocation and hold the reins for the rest of the year to stay within the target. In today’s business climate, a dynamic & responsive financial planning approach is more appropriate. E.g: Operations/Run the Business planned on a steady state spend with certain efficiencies baked in for the entire year, Projects/Optimize & Grow the Business have a target budget but the allocation will be done throughout the year based on the ROI and business climate, Innovation/R&D will have a target allocation but will be funded milestone based like a VC model
5. Chief of Influence: With many Chiefs like CTO, Chief Digital Officer, and Chief Data, the most important role of a CIO is the Chief Influence Officer. The scope of accountability for new breed CIO is from IT systems to Digital ecosystems, which is enforced in the Gartner Digital Platform. The CIOs are the Guardian of the Galaxy from security perspective. Without the influence and trust, it will be a monumental challenge for CIOs to accomplish the effective outcomes for the business.
6. Chief of Inspiration: Talent is the foundation. In the world of War for Talent, engagement is crucial. The Millennials are demanding more meaning to their work, and like to see a direct correlation of their contribution to the outcomes which they can connect with. CIOs should have the ability to articulate a compelling vision and inspire people to see their work in the context of broader business and customers.
For the CIO to be effective with these multi hats, they need to adopt a very strong situational leadership and exercise various styles in operations and communications depending on business need. I like the analogy, the CIO has to be like an eagle – Fly high enough to have helicopter view but dive deep when you spot the target.
This is what I see, when I think about the New Breed CIO. What do you think?
*Reference: IDC IT Executive Program