CIO’s Innovation Dilemma

Thursday, February 9, 2012 | comments

Today’s CIO is one of the crucial leadership roles facing  significant transformation, Being a Chief Infrastructure Officer to align IT operation with business is no longer sufficient,  since the rate of changes is accelerating at the age of digitization.

CIO is facing the modern innovation dilemma: Just keep the light on when the users are pushing the legacy IT into the breaking point? Or be the change agent to expedite the transformation to reach innovation tipping point by pulling people, process and technology seamlessly to achieve the higher level of IT maturity.

 What is innovation? CIO may need see through the innovation via all different angles listed here. The wisdom and ultimate goal of innovative CIO is to help the organization think clearly about the two horizons of future, the short term gain & long term wins, set appropriate strategies, and make intelligent plans, to deliver IT via the business value driven metrics.  .

CIOs, are you ready for the three innovator’s debates:  

1. Being a Second Class Executive or a Five-Star Influencer:

CIOs frequently have trouble convincing executives about IT vision, or the resource needs and work that needs to be done, often because CIOs tend to frame their arguments in technical terms.

Being a second class executive is no longer a option, CIO, it’s time to sharpen the business acumen:

  • Your Elevator Speech
IT need be built to change-- simplify & optimize today's operations; IT also need be built to last, envision & enable tomorrow's aspirations, in order to drive business from good to great.

  • Master the Strategy Conversation
The strategy conversations at round table CIO should master include:

1) Revenue Growth: CIOs should serve as catalysts who can drive the organization to see the value of information technology in opening new revenue streams and achieving competitive advantage.

2) Cost Optimizing: The shadow of great recession is on the air, even with improvement of economy, we may not intend to repeat "irrational exuberance" bubble, the strategy conversation will still need focus on business effectiveness and efficiency via the language everyone in the room understand.

3) Governance/Risk Management: How to build the risk resilience organization is strategic imperative at today’s hyper-complex, hyper-competitive business environment,  CIO need walk the talk, to shape the framework, the culture, the ownership, the metrics. A wide range of perspectives, not merely token representation, is critical to effective corporate governance.

4) Talent Management: CIOs lead IT to expand organizational capabilities by refining business processes and enhancing enterprise base collaboration., the advanced analytics tools will help  predict the future of  talent trend, and provide foresight about future of STEM education.

2. Being a Low-Profile Caretaker or a High-value Business Leader

CIO may need wear the hat of "devil's advocate" base on part of her/his role as the caretaker of information and “keep light on”,  however, contemporary CIOs need wear multiple hat of colors, to be the innovation officer, the integration officer,  the influence officer, Steward/strategist/visionary., etc.

In order to achieve high maturity of IT-- IT as transformer & game changer, CIO need become the high-value business leader:

  • The effective change agents: success is far more likely if CIOs and IT professionals are seen as integral team players whose efforts add real value to the deployment of collaborative team structures within the organization. CIOs can provide the visible corporate leadership and support that is required as traditional hierarchies are challenged and dismantled. They should promote training and robust communication policies that keep enterprise-wide goals and security in sight, yet do not stifle collaboration and creativity.
  •  A culture Influencer: CIO may need lead via influencing: Modern enterprise has recognized corporate culture as the strategic key for any innovation or large scale change management effort, many companies also walk the talk, take the tough cultural journey: from culture ignorance, culture cognizance into culture transformation. If we say CEO may take the ownership about culture, then CIO could be one of the biggest influencers on it via the modern knowledge sharing platform, analytics tools to inspire thought leadership, encourage the dissent opinions and demonstrate diversity. The innovative CIO will influence business culture and beyond, here are the seven influences CIO can make.
3. From a Status Quo to Think Differently

In an industry where innovation threatens to tear down legacy systems and practices (and vendors) just as it generates new opportunities, IT organizations are nonetheless resistant to change. It's natural to fear the unknown, question the unproven, be skeptical of the latest and greatest. Note the continued enterprise IT resistance to the cloud, consumer, and social movements--"non-compliant," "insecure," "overrated," "frivolous," "nothing really new here" ... pick your reason(s) for not buying in "smaller," "lighter," and "more agile" IT.

However, CIOs need to rise above the status quo and take on a new set of activities that have them involved in the strategy development process from the get-go.  Innovation is about  thinking differently, acting differently, delivering differently, adding value differently... from the status quo

Innovation requires thinking beyond, as opposed to outside the box, altering or changing the frame of reference to create previously unconsidered solutions. The new IT rulebook isn't for the faint of heart. Getting to "smaller," "lighter," and "more agile" may not require a complete IT architectural overhaul, but it will require some hard decisions about legacy platforms and processes

CIO, be an innovator, to run IT as an innovation hub, to equip people with the latest technology & information, help business make the right decision at every level, to capture insight & foresight for the future of business.

CIO, “Get it done, better, faster, cheaper, and smarter.” via the four C's. Conversations, convergence, consistency and community.

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