How IT can move beyond the era of ‘have you tried turning it off and on again?’

The increase in the use of mobile devices, the cloud and other emerging technologies in the workplace has greatly affected the role of the CIO. To navigate the new landscape successfully, CIOs must be able to evaluate the potential of a new technology, communicate the risks and rewards effectively throughout an organisation, and apply it in meaningful ways.

Whatever becomes the principle tech priority this year, there is no doubt that the IT department has a critical job on their hands. In an increasingly digital economy, stakeholders at all levels of the business will have an interest in technology to support their drive for innovation.

> See also: The transformation of the CIO: from hero to villain, to hero once more

It’s quite common for IT purchases to come from any part of the organisations. With an increasing number of lines of business leaning on them for support, many CIOs are finding that they are evolving into a new strategic role, rather than just being the guy who looks after the desktops.

For years, the IT department was pigeon-holed as not being fully connected to the wider organisation. Those days are over as a new generation of CIO is making ripples in the way that businesses approach growth.

Whilst some CIOs are already leading the charge – focusing less on operational matters and instead supporting the business to take calculated risks – there is certainly a long way to go for the majority.

The recent Moments that Matter study by Colt Technology Services reveals 68% of CIOs admit that they still base pressured decisions on their own instinct and technical experience, above any other factor.

What’s more, three-quarters admit that this is often at odds with third party data. The modern-day CIO understands that they need to adapt in their way of thinking to continue riding the digital wave, yet change is always something that happens to others and at the core it appears that insularity still remains.

So what steps can CIOs make to ensure that adoption of their role – from information to innovation – starts today? Here are five recommendations to consider:

Strengthen peer-to-peer relations

Essentially a good CIO must demonstrate they understand each part of the business inside out. The most full proof route is to take time to foster solid relationships across the organisation, building a more collaborative approach between the teams. Start first with the CMO, CTO and head of digital and branch out from there.

Through these interactions insights can be gathered on each peers’ pain points, tolerance for risk, how they could use technology to transform business processes relevant for their customer base. With these nuggets, IT leaders can look at how best to work together to help the department do its job better, leveraging digitisation.

The ‘trusted advisor’ health check

Consider if the right communications style is being adopted to fit with the wider corporate culture. Is it also appropriate for the department being communicated to? By singing the same tune this will help practice leaders translate how technology relates to their individual business processes, and ultimately their profitability.

So leave any techno-jargon at the door and the IT team will soon be seen as trusted digital advisors.

Secure 360 buy-in

To challenge the current perception of the CIO, the whole organisation must be enthused about digital transformation. Start by picking only a few key areas for change – this ensures maximum attention and buy-in for the most important aspects.

To inspire the workforce, CIOs should aim to regularly collect feedback and share successes through internal communications programmes.

Become a ‘keen not lean’ operation

The economic downturn forced CIOs into a cost-cutting role, streamlining processes and improving the efficiency of IT systems. Whilst this will always be a contributing factor when making decisions, tomorrow’s IT leaders will need to shift any connotations of IT being simply a cost-centre.

Instead the IT department of the future should focus on becoming a hotbed for value creation and revenue generation, so that it is recognised as the source of many company successes.

Regularly push boundaries

Transformation rarely comes without risk, and the successful CIO is one that manages risk rather than avoids it. It’s true that business analytics, cloud and mobile may be a top priority today, but anticipating the disruptors of the future is what will set you apart from the competition.

> See also: The 4 new roles of the CIO

Keep an eye constantly on the next disruptive technology and work with the lines of business to allocate budget for frequent relevant pilots and prototypes before committing to big projects. Ensuring that an experimentation phase is built in will help alleviate the risk and pressure on the shoulders of an IT leader.

According to IDC, two-thirds of CEOs plan to focus on digital transformation strategies in the coming year, with the CIO leading each department through this shift. The savvy IT leader will delegate operational matters so they can retain the bandwidth they need to collaborate with line of business peers and executive leadership to develop forward looking strategies.

The stage is clearly set for CIOs to have a much more pivotal role within the organisation; whatever path you take, applying these steps will help tomorrows CIO become a trusted advisor rather than just the ‘the IT guy’.

Sourced from Nick Robinson, Client Director, Colt Technology Services


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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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