The CIO is now being seen more as the right hand to the CEO. But does that mean everything the CIO contends for is worth the investment?
Technology turns over every 2-3 years. How do you know if the current technology in place is a liability on your business or an asset, leveraging exactly what you need?
It’s difficult to know the answer in the changing landscape of digital transformation and the roles of C-Suite Executives. The CIO is now being seen more as the right hand to the CEO. But does that mean everything the CIO contends for is worth the investment?
As the CIO role develops, their priorities are shifting. Whereas saving costs was the number 1 priority in 2013 to 71% of CIO respondents (hear the applause of the CFO in the background), now only 55% of respondents place cost as high priority. Also in decline is the CIO priority of increasing operational efficiency and delivering stable IT performance. Instead, improving business processes, developing products and enhancing customer experience is gaining higher priority, and those have new technologies and costs associated with them.
Whereas the CIO was an operator and technologist, they now focus more on being strategist and catalyst, aligning business with IT strategies and promoting innovation.
Technology becomes a liability when the following is true:
1. When you are trying to keep up rather than step up.
The fourth most common two-word term in recent earnings calls is machine-learning. It’s such an assumed part of our future that companies are beginning to jump into technology that has no use cases verification. AI requires significant customization (and therefore, costs) before it provides value. Technology exists to help companies step up to what they must accomplish. Just trying to keep up is a recipe for wasted expense and hidden costs difficult to calculate. Not only is time money, timing is money.
2. When you are playing it safe rather than keeping it real.
Technology turnover requires divesting one’s self of prior beliefs, of keeping an open mind and refusing to be bound to few solutions.
One-half of all strategic initiatives fail when strategy and delivery are disconnected. Out of date and obsolete technology is a significant liability when it blocks the business driver.
Will your essential business outcome be able to be carried by your current technology?
3. When you are serving technology rather than technology serving you.
Anytime you are structuring procedures and processes around the technology available to you, or anytime you are just trying to get the same output for less cost, you are serving technology. If your training costs and hidden costs are being invested in current technology that lags behind your need, you are serving technology. Anytime you are covering for less than best customer experience, you are serving technology (Customers don’t care if you are operating off of a legacy system or modern system. They do care about the ease of their experience).
But when technology is serving you, then technology is an asset:
In the end, as CFO you need to concern yourself with one question: Will the technology we have deliver the business outcomes we established?
The new day is now about product ownership over project management. IT leaders must be able to identify business needs and build applications that not only address the needs but take into account how those applications impact projects and workflow and integrate with other systems.
C-Suite Executives and IT leaders must continually emphasize that we transform “us” before we transform technology. Leaders become astute at pace and communication. Teams must be organized correctly to have a structure for speed, and leaders must communicate what can be delivered and in what time frame.
The primary measure of work must now be if it has been simplified. Leaders must avoid unnecessary “adds.”
Behavior based interview questions now focus not just on technical aptitude (“What did you build?”) but on why and how they built it (“What needs did you perceive and address? How did you discern and communicate their impact on other business systems?).
IT leaders now need to be able to present well at two levels. At the strategic level, they must be able to speak up in collaborative meetings. They are not just fulfilling directives, they must advise toward what the real needs are. The ability to communicate viewpoints and influence decisions rightly become a high-level premium skill-set for today’s digital transformation. At the communication level, IT leaders now need to know how to present in meetings, host and facilitate webinars and manage conference calls.
IT leaders must make others aware of their value. The work no longer speaks for itself. Though it is not instinctual for IT leaders to self-promote, they must in order to avoid being under-allocated.
In addition, IT leaders must promote their value to a customer-centric experience. As businesses make more decisions based on client empathy, IT leaders are at the heart of a customer’s interface. The IT voice must be heard because, in the end, they will be solving the problem’s raised by the customer voice.
The average technology skill has a half-life of 18 months. Usually what stands in the way of digital transformation is people. The new leader is curious, and C-Suite Executives are looking for people who bring diversity of thought to the table.
Day-long trainings are now being replaced by learning bursts: Minutes-long videos and podcasts are the norm of the urgent, hungry, apply-it-now learner.
Along the way, positive learners exhibit the emotional well-being that embraces mistakes: Genius emerges from failure.
We come full circle. There is already a gap between need and qualified potential hires. The need is exacerbated even more, as what used to be considered qualified is being challenged by the new skills required in your digital transformation.
But they are out there. Now we have a better idea of who to look for.