Sunday, July 2, 2017

CIOs as Digital Masters

CIOs today need to be the digital master, to understand business drivers and equip with digital mindsets, apply digital technologies to solve the ever-emergent business issues.

Nowadays technologies make impacts on every core process of the business and information is permeating into every corner of the organization. Unfortunately, too many CIOs are still perceived as just techies by the business side of the house, and the IT departments see CIOs as a tactical IT managers who don't have enough strategic vision and hands-on business acumen. In order to be an effective Digital CIO and lead effectively, you must understand every aspect of the business and have digital fluency for driving the business transformation. The priority for CIOs is to genuinely position IT as an integral and inseparable part of the business. Because CIOs will continue to be put on the front line to run IT as a digital transformer, they need to become digital masters themselves and ensure their organizations are digital savvy and customer-centric.

Digital CIOs are Information Masters: The word "information" is central to the digital IT. Back to basic, CIOs are Chief Information Officer, information is the lifeblood of the digital business and all forward-thinking organizations declare they are in the information business. IT is the official owner of the business data and information. Data by itself is meaningless until it’s interpreted and analyzed. The digital CIO should focus on the information content and context; how that information can be tapped from the underlying data and be utilized to turn it into valuable strategic insight. Today, the CIO is not just managing IT to keep the lights on but is managing the information to ensure the right people getting the right information at the right time to make the right decision. One of the key differentiators between digital leaders and digital laggards is how the information and insight can be penetrated through the business and be actively leveraged in managing business processes and shaping the business capabilities to execute business strategy solidly.

Digital CIOs are Change Masters: Traditional IT organizations are often perceived as the business controller and the department slow to change. Many firms see their incumbent CIO as the 'head techie' rather than a transformational executive who happens to be tech-savvy. Digital means increasing the speed of changes and fast growth of information, forward-looking organizations are empowering their CIOs to drive changes via capturing the business trend based on processed information and build changeability via tuning processes. Not all changes are innovation, but innovation is definitely is change. Hence, a change agent IT can enable enterprises to become nimbler with high-responsiveness, to gain the competitive advantage, and harness innovation management capability catalyzed by IT. Following the “Keep Things Simple” principle is another angle to run a change agent IT for getting digital ready. Organizations "become complex," not for their own amusement, they do it to respond to environments more proactively. It is important to fine-tune the organizational structure and underlying functions to improve the business flexibility and adaptation. It's possible for a dynamic, driven CIO to drive the change in perception of digital IT in general and the CIO role in particular. Most digital master CIOs understand that the digital transformation of most of the organizations depends, to a large extent, on their capabilities to transform their duty from an inside-out focus into an outside-in focus; from “keep the lights on” only to run a balanced “run, grow, and transform” IT portfolio. They must devote their time and energy, understand the business and the potential of digital technologies to improve customer experiences, optimize business processes and work with senior executives to develop new digital enabled business models and core competency. Digital CIOs are Change Masters who wisely invest in learning, change, and innovating.

The digital CIO should be a talent master: IT skill gaps are the reality, not fiction. people are always the most important asset, especially in IT organization. IT knowledge life cycle has been shortened due to the changing nature of technology, and fast growth of information and updated knowledge. People are the most invaluable asset in any organization anytime and anywhere. However, the traditional talent management treats people more as cost or resource, less as an asset or capital investment. And traditional performance management approaches focus on measuring behaviors and quantitative results, with ignorance of qualitative assessments of talent potential and capabilities, such as thinking capability, decision-making capability, changeability, problem-solving capability, creativity, etc. Thus, digital CIOs need to work closely with talent/performance management, to create a more open, creative and productive working environment and to strengthen the weakest link of strategy execution - PEOPLE. Businesses become over-complex these days, digital technologies keep updating, more often than not, the skills gap is caused by candidates not having the appropriate balance of the right technical skills with business/management acumen, or multidimensional thinking capabilities. Every organization must address their common and unique IT skills requirements and map that out through some sort of skills/competency matrix within their organization. Digital IT leaders as talent master need to leverage the emerging talent pipelines and shift mindset for understanding talent with empathy, encourage autonomy, discovery, and growth. Forward-looking IT organizations should discover and develop talent for tomorrow, rather than just hire for yesterday.

A digital CIO has to focus on guiding the company through the digital transformation. At the very least, IT must be a business partner within the organization. Regardless of which industry or the nature of organization you are in, being a digital leader will need to master the art of creating unique and multidimensional business value from piles of commoditized technologies and abundance of information. CIOs today need to be the digital master, because there is now a greater need for a CIO to understand business drivers and equip with digital mindsets, apply digital technologies to solve the ever-emergent business issues, speed up IT and build competitive business capabilities, make digital influences which touch every aspect of the business.


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