Top 5 CIO actions for 2016, and beyond

The traditional role of CIO has changed significantly and as technology continues to be central to business strategy, is likely to go on changing. The modern CIO needs to be both technological guru and business adviser, involved from the start in discussions about the business’s tactical and strategic needs.

With that in mind, CIOs now have a great opportunity to wield greater influence across organizations – but what should the CIO’s priority actions be to exert that influence?

1. Become a digital transformer

The CIO needs to focus on how digital technology can enable the organization to create new, innovative products and services and to drive revenues. Historically the CIO was charged with overseeing IT effectiveness – now it is very much about maximizing digital impact to power growth.

With so much of business strategy now relying on technology, the CIO can step forward and position themselves as a ‘digital transformer. In other words, someone who can work with business unit leaders to help them drive the organization forward, reduce costs, improve processes and drive growth.

2. Break down boundaries

Through technologies that enable agility such as cloud computing, companies have become more flexible and have fewer silos than before. CIOs should build on this and seek to increase collaboration between business units and IT. They can be a trailblazer for fostering greater integration throughout the organization and for more sharing of financial and human resources.

In addition, the CIO can also use technology to increase the company’s reach out into a larger ecosystem of partners. They are often key in helping companies innovate, source, distribute and market products and services. One recent industry research report revealed that 81 percent of technology executives believe platforms are reshaping industries into interconnected ecosystems. The modern CIO can leverage these tech platforms to help create new products, services and business models.

3. Transform the operating model

The constantly-changing nature of customer expectations means companies always have to find new ways to deliver value. The CIO can be at the heart of transforming the operating model to provide true value and sustainable growth. Disruptive technologies, such as SaaS, IaaS, the Internet of Things and enterprise mobility, can all contribute to increasing the speed of delivery and an enhanced overall business offering.

Because IT is now at the heart of the business, the CIO has the power to directly influence investment priorities in the organization, and no longer be a reactive department carrying out the requests of internal units. The CIO can transform the operating model to create long-term business value.

4. Make the most of IT talent

Just as the role of the CIO must change, so must the roles of other IT staff. The CIO will need to get the maximum benefit from talented workers, so it is advisable to treat staff well, keep them happy and encourage great performance and loyalty. It also makes sense to re-focus teams of developers and programmers on services and systems that are directly relevant to the business, rather than just leaving them to the basic management of programs and building of software tools.

The CIO can transform the IT department by reskilling existing teams and targeting new recruits who show both technical aptitude but also the desire and ability to enhance business units and projects. Skills such as business and marketing expertise, cloud and data management, business intelligence and data analytics can all contribute to business growth and add value.

5. Be the organization’s main source of innovation

The full transformation of the CIO into an effective leader who is at the center of the business and strategy can be achieved by focusing on innovation. Be the organization’s chief innovator – some companies are even creating the role of Chief Innovation Officer, a position which would appear ideal for the progressive CIO – and be a catalyst for continuous change. By engaging with all business units and leveraging IT and innovation, the CIO can drive projects forward that can transform finance departments, human resources and more – to the overall benefit of the business.

By taking these actions CIOs can put themselves front and center as companies look to leverage all the benefits of digital. The opportunities are endless. To read more about digital transformation in the enterprise, click here: