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.”
I attended the CIO-DNA event earlier this week, hosted by the BCS Elite Group, the BCS London South Group and the IOD. It was a 1/2 day session with technology leaders from different organisations speaking and with some very thought provoking discussions around what makes an effective CIO and CTO, and some of the speakers’ personal journeys to becoming technology leaders.
I’ve summarised some of the key takeaway notes – the fundamental drivers behind what makes a good CIO – from the session below . Let me know what you think – do you agree?
The CIO and CTO roles are now primarily about innovation. The focus is no longer about keeping the lights on.
As technology leaders we need to advocate the creation of an environment in which the team feels empowered to create sparks of innovation.
You need to be fundamentally close to the business and to the customers. They need to help drive the priorities for technology.
A great quote from one of the speakers – “The death of the mouse is only weeks away” – in reference to how important touch is becoming and will be. Interesting point. Yes touch is critical but I think there’s a longer transition for a lot of core technology products and platforms.
Related to touch, devices that are touch enabled remove barriers to entry for C-level executives and help get wider buy-in to new technology services.
Communication and visualisation are key for the CIO to raise their profile. And as part of this we need to be recognised as equal contributors to business transformation. The CIO needs to be the agent of business transformation.
See technology as an enabler to open up new markets and do things the business wasn’t doing before.
The key areas where there are new opportunities, are – smart machines, capturing the real world, mobile computing, touch and cloud. Where cloud can be seen as more about provision and delivery.
Knowledge management will continue to be a challenge for technology leaders, with retiring staff taking know-how with them. This isn’t a new problem though and can’t be changed. Focus instead on the new guys coming in and give them an environment that they can be most effective in – and that doesn’t just mean yes to BYOD. New recruits – and the work force of the future – now have very different expectations for IT and technology.
Develop techniques for managing different streams of inputs and see where they match and where they conflict. Where they conflict, dig deeper – these places show the most interest.
Move away from being a pure technologist and focus on the business transformation agenda. And get proportionately more focus on the profit side of the business – technology is no longer just about costs.
Technology does not have users any more – something I’ve been saying for a good number of years. We need to shift our way of thinking to see them as our customers – whether external or internal ones. We as technology are providing our customers with a service!
Understand what your customers want from the services and systems, and move then to create and deliver that!
Create a clear future workspace vision – that allows the business and teams to be more flexible, work smarter and to work faster. And get the inputs from the business for this – don’t drive with technology.
Technology is about change management with the business, and utilising technology to do that.
Test the vision with the business – and use visualisation tools (e.g. storyboards and animations). See a great example of this by Gavin Walker at NATS below – this part of the session was from Gavin….