Most businesses are increasingly dependent on IT, not just for daily operations, but to enable digital transformation in a world experiencing constant disruption in business and technology. As a result, chief information officers are under increased pressure for their IT departments to deliver on-demand services to locations across the globe. As competitors develop innovations, the burden to provide transformative solutions while ensuring the availability of key systems increases exponentially for leadership in the C-suite.
Empowering the C-suite
The board of directors is charged with creating a successful business strategy, while faced with an outlook that demands technological innovation to survive. Many markets have been comprehensively disrupted by technologically innovative approaches to business requiring businesses to follow these visionary leaders or risk fading away. Among a CIO’s responsibilities are identifying, learning and implementing hybrid IT solutions quickly and accurately to maintain and grow their business’s position in the market.
Some organizations, recognizing the limitations of traditional IT departments, have sought to implement technological awareness by appointing chief data officers and chief digital officers, and enhancing the remit of chief marketing officers. When implemented with the engagement of the IT department during the hiring process, this approach can result in an integrated team that works to deliver both normal operations and drive change and innovation.
There is always a challenge when a new team or department is created, especially where it is seen to be taking the “interesting" work away from the established team. so this approach of creating new roles is not always successful. It also means appointing full-time C-suite leadership into new roles that are often ill-defined.
Utilizing emerging IT services
Business leaders are also becoming more technologically savvy due to technology’s increased prominence in their day-to-day lives, as well as their familiarity with as-a-service technology models. This approach often bypasses the IT department and removes any need for traditional technical assessments. The growth of this shadow IT may meet current needs but can become problematic when attempting to deliver a comprehensive strategy across an entire business.
The greatest issue facing organizations with an established investment in their existing IT environment is the struggle to balance conflicting requirements. Many CIOs and IT directors rose through the ranks of their IT department and, as a result, possess a comprehensive understanding of technology in the business. Unfortunately, legacy technology often makes up the core of their knowledge, which hinders them from exploring the validity of this technology for their current business model.
Improving training and development
Training and development are holding back many organizations from technological innovation. However, simply sending existing IT leaders to a course or conference is not the solution. Engaging a new C-level role is an expensive and often risky approach and requires close cooperation with the CIO. One very effective approach is to support the existing CIO with an advisory service that provides external viewpoints challenging the CIO’s thinking.
Effective CIO advisors are experienced people, capable of engaging with the business at the board level and quickly understanding the imperatives of the business. As external parties, CIO advisors have no emotional connection to the existing infrastructure, and therefore bring a unique view to the IT department. They are also capable of training, developing and mentoring existing staff, both IT and business, to help in the creation of enhanced value within an IT department.