Priority alignment: this should be a focus of any CIO looking to grow a business. Indeed, the adaptive CIO must set clearly-defined roles for each branch of the department, especially important as it pertains to the role of CIO vs. IT manager. In essence, CIOs need to be focused on helping the CEO with the company’s strategy and let their IT managers handle the back-office work. As CIO puts it, the IT department has to help the business make more money; as CIO, you must remained focused on the business rather than concerning yourself with providing the computer, the network or the server. This is what the IT Manager’s role is, and you’re paying him/her handsomely to do that. By clearly defining those roles and sticking to them: this is the only effective way to grow a business. Otherwise, resources are wasted, not to mention time and money.
The Path to Alignment
Sure, digital transformation has begun placing more and more demands on the CIO position — a role that has undergone am impactful shift over the years from maintaining a stable portfolio of back-office technology to crafting ways that technology can bring in more money for the company’s bottom line. But progress has been slow. For many years, CIOs worked toward a goal of closely coordinating IT projects and overall strategy with business processes, with a recent Public CIO survey saying that executives still report IT-business alignment as their #1 IT management concern. A shift is afoot. Another survey — Deloitte’s 2019 Global CIO Survey — revealed that the two top expectations for CIOs are, in this order, to:
- Align with the business
- Transform business processes
- Achieve IT operational excellence
Based on these findings, experts say the two kinds of CIOs needed in the future include a “business co-creator” CIO who devotes a majority of his or her time to driving business strategy or encouraging change, and a “change instigator” who acts as a leader in technology-enabled business transformation.
Still, the CIO is always at a perpetual inflection point, spinning plates in the air, as they face opposing functional and strategic priorities. On one hand, CIOs are called upon to be more active in all business decisions, as competition demands more transformative, innovative solutions for clients and customers. On the other hand, IT is responsible for maintaining most of the functional yet essential aspects of tech strategy, such as security and data management. Just one wrong step, like a data breach, and it’s game over.
The plates the CIOs are spinning are getting greater in number yet faster and smaller in size. How can CIOs and IT manager stay in their respective lanes in order to properly grow the business?
The skill sets once required to manage information are changing, spurring CIOs to move beyond simply “managing” IT and toward helping the organization find a competitive advantage, in partnership with the CEO. Today’s economic climate demands that CIOs emphasize business knowledge with technical depth, augmented with leadership abilities that can be tapped into to drive strategic corporate growth plans and boost market opportunities.
There is a divergence in how CIO and IT executives are embracing the digital revolution, says Forbes, with some taking leadership roles in guiding their organizations’ digital transformations, while others remaining confined to more traditional roles overseeing the management and deployment of technology. It’s only been recently that CIOs have moved from the back office to the front lines, and even then, many organizations are still struggling to make this distinction.
CIOs are going from task manager and implementer on the back end to innovator and advisor working on the front lines with the CEO and other key decision makers. In fact, Forbes continues to assert that CIOs must be at the leadership table with the CEO, the CFO and other business leaders, in an effort to not only grow the business but underline it with a strong, intelligent IT roadmap. The CIO is responsible for the digitization, the operation and the IT support to the business in a managed state. When you gave a CIO that muddles in the back office IT operations, you have a weak CIO whose resources would be better spent delegating the responsibility of daily operations to IT managers. The war for talent is a daily battle, at both at the management level and among the professional ranks. IT leaders who can blend technology with end-to-end design in an effort to create an agile business environment while serving as a primary engine of change for their companies are the future of business.