Five Styles of Conversation Modern CIO need Master For

Friday, February 24, 2012 | comments

Contemporary CIOs not only need wear many colors of hat or try different pairs of shoes,  they may also need master all styles of conversations to develop situational wisdom and influential competency, to rebuild IT’s reputation as value creator and innovation hub.

1. Strategy Presentation at Round Table

First, as technology becomes increasingly strategic to  business and driver for business growth,  C-level executives are coming to grips with the reality that IT and the art of possible should close the loop at strategy development, CIO need become more visible and accountable via presenting following fact-based strategic issues persuasively.

  • Business Growth: How does CIO envision business growth or potential disruptive innovation via the power of latest technology?

  • Cost Optimization: How does modern technology help shape more effective business process and improve cost structure and enable innovation, CIO need develop financial metrics that will help clearly communicate IT performance with C-level executives in plain business language

  • Talent Master: How does digital technology such as social, mobile or talent analytics empower employees to re-imagine work & re-tool working environment with new attitude, increase staff satisfaction and improve productivity.

  • GRC Management: How does IT orchestrate the holistic governance, risk control and compliance framework with cohesive strategy & culture to shape a risk intelligence enterprise.

2. Value Debate with Business Customer

Transforming IT talk from cost center into value creator is both the art and science, the shifted focus conversation may help improve IT reputation as a business strategic partner and manage more pertinent KPIs scoreboard to present results.

·        IT provides legitimate value include:
* Business risk reduction
* Legal compliance
* Customer experience
* Employee engagement
*Potential revenue stream
* Cost Structure optimization

  • Value Conversation Sample:
 Cost discussion: Our total IT software maintenance costs are $300,000, up only $10,000 from last year.

Value discussion: The new document/printing management system that was implemented last year reduced the costs of paper and document storage by 25% for an annual savings of $100,000. The annual software maintenance costs to support this application are just a tenth of that, at $10,000 per year

  • Trust Relationship Tipping Point
 IT need forge an mature adult relationship with business users, since today’s multi-generational knowledge workforce, from baby boomer to millennial, either technology immigrant or digital natives, overall are more savvy about the wide range of technology than IT manager give credit for, IT need transform the reputation from “controller” to enabler.

IT also need overcome the application sprawling challenge facing at the age of cloud, transform “shallow IT” into deputized IT.
 3. Execution Conversation with IT Team

 The laser focused strategy presentation at round table and value debate with business partners may also help CIO create more effective IT roadmap with value-driven priority, to have inspiring execution conversation with IT team:

  • Operation Excellence: Keep business running smoothly to achieve operational excellence is still the bottom line for IT, the journey may also include the goal to make IT delivery faster, cheaper and better via the new technology such as cloud. 
  • PPM to Shape Business Strategy: Every IT project is a business project, intend to solve business problems and implement business strategy, CIO need educate IT team to equip the new business thinking, pondering the root cause about project failures, take the effective PM methodology such as Agile, and enforce governance via well-defined metrics.  
  • IT Integration to Orchestration: The information and data keep growing and flowing at modern organization, IT plays unprecedented role to determine business success, IT integration to orchestration scenario will gap the business silos, breakdown the organizational boundary, and shorten the cycle to collect right information for streamlining decision making and empower innovation agenda.
4. Touchy-Feely Chat with End Customers

CIO may need take end customers’ shoes on or experiment at frontline to walk through customers experience or collect open loop customers’ feedback: 

Customers’ Pain Point: For all the customer-centric industries and businesses today, how to delight customer is strategic imperative, and CIO & team may just need some touchy-feely chat with the end customers or walk through customers’ experience, to bring up outside-in point of view, and soothe customers’ pain point via the magic bullet of modern technology or staff’s innovative services.

Customers’ Touch Point: So-Lo-Mo: social, location, mobile and smart device such as RFID may also help provide customers the freedom of choice at each touch point, to make customer experience as seamless & impressive as possible

 5. Relentless Negotiation with Vendors        

Vendor Relationship Management is another strategic focus for CIO today, it’s also about business sourcing, integration and innovation strategy.  How to make partner relationship a win-win situation, how to recognize the mix bag of vendors who can make difference, take extra-miles, and present both  best tailored solutions with great attitude?

  • Vendor innovation category:

 Legendary vendors: like senior citizens, the legendary vendors may survive and thrive more than sixty five years, compare to fifteen years--the average life span of today’s Fortune 500 companies, these companies deserve some respect, they present not just the wisdom from age, but also the leadership value proposition with full portfolio of solutions, they are usually accountable & influential, the question for them could be: Are their services cost-effective compared to the niche players’, or are their solutions agile enough to adapt to the rapidly changes today?

    Pioneer or niche vendors: Those are the vendors may sit in visionary or challenger position at Gartner’s Magic Quadrant, or the vendors who always go extra miles, with great success stories, passionate and capable.  To encourage or support these pioneers or niche players may help sow the innovation seeds and create win-win scenario.  The questions for them might be: What’s the competitive advantage to compare them with giant vendors?  reliabilities, the strength/weakness., etc.
  • SLA/Contract Negotiation
 SLA/Contract negotiation could be even more complex at the age of cloud, the ratio of performance/cost, the business goals/purpose,  the benchmark & metrics, the description of service, duration, termination or legal issues, all those trick or treat, crunchy data & hidden cost., etc.,   therefore,  remediation, revision and renegotiation should be always options.

It is critical that communication need be directly related to your audience situation, how it affects them, CIO may also need listen before talk, learning before doing, hopefully through mastering the five styles of conversation, CIO can walk the talk, construct the collaborative vision and deliver high-performance IT result. 

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