The business environment is changing, and the role of the CIO must change with it.
Mobile technology is changing the game – not only providing the device, but also the operating system, the network, the application delivery, and support. We can’t remain focused on IT’s traditional core function—the force behind the scenes that “keeps the lights on,” or “runs the shop”—because these areas are quickly becoming obsolete.
Think about that for a minute, what would you or your team do if network administration and application delivery and support were no longer on your plate? That reality is quickly approaching, and I encourage my peers to prepare for this new business environment. The CIOs of the future need to redefine their roles –becoming less about the engine that powers the organization and more about innovation, process improvement, and leadership.
Without these three core areas, the IT function will quickly vacate the C-Suite and re-emerge back in the server rooms from where it came.
Be Innovative and Think Like a Startup
As CIOs, we need to continue to extend beyond the internal business areas in which we normally operate. As a function, IT has made progress on this front. During the dot-com days, we began partnering with or managing e-business areas that paralleled core lines of business.
To continue to innovate, we have to move into the cores of business and identify opportunities that add real value to customers and suppliers. While our natural inclination may be to focus on old school IT services, we need to think less like IT professionals and more like product managers or start-ups. We need to challenge ourselves to create services that customers would be willing to buy, services that don’t just facilitate communication but that create revenue streams for our companies.
Each IT team possesses technical, analytical, and project management skills unique in any organization. We need to apply these skills to solve business-wide problems.
In the new IT environment, where application deployment is out of our hands, we must develop and control the implementation programs that drive real results. Many companies already have combined the role of CIO and the process improvement leader, which creates a natural connection between the technology and the process to implement it. We have the tools and we must “own the result” of these efforts.
Extending Leadership into Other Business Areas
CIOs have worked to prove they deserve a seat at the table, and we must make sure we continue to earn that seat every day. We have to be comfortable with extending into areas of the business that may or may not be in our direct control.
A CFO unapologetically gets involved in many parts of the business. We as leaders should also feel that we have the right and responsibility to penetrate into any part of the business that can benefit from our leadership. This process isn’t easy and will require both business and organizational skills, skills we might possess but for which we’re not normally known.
The business world is changing. The needs that elevated the CIO function to the top floor of the organization are no longer the realities of the current business environment. As these realities change, we must change with it, not only to avoid obsolescence, but also to identify, develop, and implement those solutions and processes that ensure the business succeeds and grows.