The Tale of Two CIOs - Embracing the Business Imperative with Cloud Strategies - Part Two

The pace of change for the tech leader’s role has increased with digital disruption and the emergence of cloud platforms. It pays dividends to understand how to overcome the challenges facing today’s CIO.

It’s very easy to say, “be consultative”, but to become an essential contributor takes understanding of how to build a business case.

Rather than focusing on costs only, you need to determine what applications, data and services are needed to support essential business operations. You should also address the amount of time taken up by yourself or your team in supporting business applications, and how much could be saved or redeployed to working in partnership with the business to build projects around business needs.

You will need to come up with a strategy, showing the ROI of shifting towards a single solution and how this will benefit the business – and free up your time as an essential contributor to the conversation.

Part of this is identifying and anticipating the moving pieces across three main areas:

  • Your team
  • The IT roadmap
  • Mapping that to the business strategy.

From the most recent CIO State of the Nation survey, published by IDG, it found 53 per cent of respondents are focusing on improving IT operational system performance as opposed to 43 per cent driving business innovation.

The good news is that 63 per cent are focusing on aligning IT initiatives with business goals – this is an essential first step. Innovation takes time – so this essentially means freeing up your time (often on smaller budgets).

However, this means that more than a third of respondents are not prioritising the need to focus less on keeping the lights on and more on innovation. So let’s look at aligning with business goals.

How do you align technology to business goals?

In future, functional activities will position you less as a leader within the business. This is fine if that’s where your passion lies, but if you’d like a seat at the table in driving technology-enabled business innovation, you will need to focus more on business leadership than tech savvy.

You can approach this in a number of ways – all will take time, but it’s important to start now or miss out on potential career progression down the track:

  • When evaluating new technology trends, take the time to research how businesses like yours have implemented them to gain competitive edge, improve customer relationships, access new markets, or generate revenue.
  • Become a champion of industry and organisational digital business strategies.
  • Bring in middle and senior managers when evaluating new vendors to get input and buy-in on innovative solutions.
  • Actively listen to business stakeholders to understand challenges, frustrations, desires and goals.
  • Introduce collaborative tools and self-service portals for your team’s repetitive tasks to reduce human capital overhead.
  • Take an active role in educating Boards, CEOs and senior executives about disruptive trends and opportunities.
  • Actively engage with vendors, industry bodies, experts and thought leaders to understand strategic trends in the industry to leverage innovative opportunities.
  • Adopt a lean start-up approach to developing new ideas, products and services.

It’s also important to understand where your personality traits place you in terms of being an effective CIO – according to Deloitte there are three main types of CIO that consider the needs of the business.

  •      Trusted operators ensure operational excellence;
  •      Change instigators enable large business transformations; and
  •      Business co-creators focus on revenue and growth.

Deloitte’s Global CIO Survey – Navigating Legacy – focuses on how you can chart your journey between pattern types to create a legacy.