The CIO survival kit


Champion technology throughout the business

Technology today is everywhere; you can’t police or control it in a business.  The best CIOs will encourage their teams to collaborate and champion the possibilities of technology, becoming more of a coach and facilitator rather than a micro-manager.  By encouraging their teams to leverage available social channels to spend more time with business colleagues, customers, suppliers and other IT professionals, CIOs will stimulate innovation within their own departments and for the business as a whole.

Innovate, innovate, innovate!

Harvard Business Review states that only 8% of 4,800 public cap companies with revenue of $1 billion or more can grow top line revenue 5% year-on-year for five years. But for large companies it is hard to be truly innovative. To help foster a creative environment, staff should be encouraged to experiment with IT. Many businesses still have a policy of locked down laptops, where only IT are able to install new apps and browser restrictions render much of the web functionality useless.  The ability for everyone to “install an app” is crucial to building innovation within the business. New IT is available everywhere, don’t restrict experimentation to a few people in the IT department.

>See also: 5 trends that will make or break the CIO

Big is not necessarily best – view innovation as continuous improvement

Many businesses think that innovation needs to be big, bold and radical. Yet, the most successful innovations are often ones that think of how to use something that already exists in a more creative or efficient way. Thinking about how to do something better is inherently less risky than gambling with large amounts of money, time and effort on brand new ideas. Using an incremental approach of multiple smaller experiments to reach a goal will lead to a successful way of developing and nurturing innovative products and ideas. CIOs should create a collaborative culture where everyone has a responsibility to improve how tasks get done and suggest how technology can help or be improved. After all, there is nothing more soul destroying for an IT professional than having a job that requires them only to keep the lights – and to take a kicking every time something goes wrong. CIOs should give their staff a chance to develop and be creative.

Don’t dismiss the under 35s

To compete against the likes of Apple – both as an employer and a tech business – traditional media and digital companies need to enable disruptive innovation. CIOs need to embrace diversity, different points of view and make more of team members under 35. It is the under-35 high-beta individuals that are the most successful at developing and implementing innovative ideas, even more so than those at the top of the pyramid within a business. This is a group that is not being fully utilised in low beta companies, meaning little to no innovation. People are often at their best under 35; they have physical energy, are not corporately formatted and are said to be at their peak cognitive age at 31. Make sure you use them!

>See also: CIO Spotlight: Evolution in sight

Review sourcing: ensure the brain of IT is in-house

CIOs should stop spending time on commodity IT; they should pay someone else to do it well, IT departments don’t need hardware in-house. Instead, they should be spending time understanding how everything integrates, making sure they are close to the team that designs and integrates the overall IT service. They should organise their function so most of their focus is external and on change, not on maintenance.

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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