A report published today reveals the unique opportunity that digitisation has provided for CIOs to elevate their position and drive the wider business agenda within their organisations.
However, it also makes clear that many CIOs are held back by a lack of technology engagement – or people skipping IT out altogether – across the C-suite.
The report, ‘Digital Dynamics in the C-Suite: Accelerating Digitisation with the Right Conversations’, from Joe Peppard of the European School of Management and Technology and sponsored by Sungard Availability Services, outlines how customer interactions and experiences are increasingly shaped by technology.
Building on key themes from research analysing business leadership collaboration, the report provides a ten-step guide to increasing the level of senior management digital cross-collaboration.
It also identifies major shifts whereby the role of technology in business can be truly transformative and offers CIOs guidance to help them evolve, if not accelerate, their organisations’ digital agendas.
Despite recognising the organisation-wide disruption that ICT and the rise of ‘digital first’ can bring, many at the C-level may not see identifying opportunities and optimising value from IT as a shared partnership but solely the CIO’s job.
While this provides a unique opportunity for the CIO to elevate their role, it also presents challenges due to the digital illiteracy of some members of the C-suite and the ambiguous nature of the CIO role.
Senior business leaders tend to view IT as secondary when it comes to the overall business strategy, meaning that decision-making is often siloed and not in line with the wider business objectives.
The report also outlines that many executives – who believe they are fairly tech savvy out of the workplace through the rise of internet enabled mobile devices – can make the mistake of equating consumer IT with enterprise IT, not quite understanding the complexities of ICT’s role within the business.
As a result many organisations are making a less than optimal business decision where IT is concerned.
“Achieving collaborative working relationships between the CIO and the leadership team is necessary to harness digital opportunities and to optimise the value from ICT investments,” Peppard said. “However, at the moment, not enough organisations are adopting this approach, which is hindering their growth opportunities.
“Conversations must be two way if they are to encourage teams to spawn ideas that are enabled and shaped by IT, as well as help the CIO better understand the wider business priorities. Harnessed in the right way, these conversations will enable the CIO to not be seen as the office of ‘No’ and to become a more integrated part of the leadership team.”
The report also discusses how CIOs should recognise that ‘shadow IT’ – IT spending which happens without the IT department’s knowledge – is not necessarily a bad thing.
With developments like cloud computing, it is much easier for employees or departments to bypass the IT team when availing IT capability. It discusses how it is often a sign of healthy innovation and actually presents a valuable opportunity for the CIO to work more closely with different business departments to develop new capabilities.