A couple of other points and thoughts from the BCS CIO-DNA event a few weeks back – these ones on the theme of better aligning with the business.
- Technology’s role is about joining people up in the business and delivering according to business priorities. We have to let the business drive these – no longer default to saying “No” but instead be innovative and look at how we can say “Yes”. Technology is there to help, not stop.
- Define what success would be. Work with your senior peers and be a key person who is involved in their decisions. Build your credibility.
- Embrace social media (yes, this might strike fear in many people) and make it work. Yes there is the whole control side that needs to be dealt with but don’t say no! The key is getting people to understand the value of something (e.g. losing data) and being accountable for it.
- Demonstrate the value that technology can bring by stitching all the component parts together. And also demonstrate the value-add of technology by mitigating the risk of the business going out and doing their own thing – as we’re seeing more and more now. I.e. working with technology providers or using the likes of Dropbox on our own for storing company documents, without any involvement from technology.
- Run know-how events – and help build bridges with the business. Run these as stalls, solution days or surgeries. And it doesn’t just mean having a new page on your corporate intranet. Get out there and engage with your customers. Run them as executive sponsored events. And merchandise them to death – give things away. These can work really well – it’s technology’s opportunity to hear first hand what works and what doesn’t and to show off new tools, services, devices etc.
- Train all your team on what the vision for technology is – get everyone on-board with the classic 30 second elevator pitch. Your CEO should be able to ask anyone in technology what the vision is!
- Engage actively with communications people. There is always a hook – the challenge is finding it. And keep listening!
- Work with multi-functional teams on projects and build respect across the different groups in the business. A great idea I’ve seen work successfully in a number of different businesses is working with your graduate recruitment programme and having these new starters rotate around the business.
- Don’t be afraid of failure. Too often there isn’t enough failure. Encourage wildcard and lateral thinking. And even what you might think of as more pure academic research. We need more horizon planning to innovate!
- Our role as CIOs and CTOs is a bridging role between technology and the commercial side of the business.
Don’t forget, in theory technology can be taught – it’s attitude and behaviour that is key. Technology teams need to be more customer facing and engaging!
I really like this quote on the role of technology…
“The role of IT then, is to act as a business analyst who can translate business priorities into technology and figure out how to get the most out of technology to serve the business better.”