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….
I was invited recently to attend the CIO Connect 2013 Conference in London, billed as the IT leadership conference in 2013 and this year with a theme on the gaming changing CIO. It was a great 2 days spent listening to global technology and business leaders’ key note sessions, attending workshops and networking with IT leaders from around the world.
Most definitely a conference that should be in your diary if you’re a technology leader and more importantly if you share an interest in the major business changes and disruptions, that are happening now and how technology can play the best role in them – and add the value to your business it should.
They had none other than Brian Cox presenting last year – sadly I couldn’t go – and the final presentation this year on day one was by Dr. Steve Peters, author of the Chimp Paradox (billed as a mind management programme to help you achieve success and almost gospel for the Team GB Cycling team and many other leading sports teams and players). Day 2 was rounded off with a session from Fraser Doherty who founded Super Jam.
I always find it useful to capture comments, thoughts, notes, observations and light bulb moments from conferences like this and play them back after the event. A blog gives you the ideal forum to do this with and to share them with a wider audience. Any comments and questions are very welcome!
The thoughts and more…
Kevin Segall was presenting on the idea of keeping things simple and reflecting on his time at Apple and working with Steve Jobs. I had the privilege of seeing Kevin a few years ago and he’s a great speaker and very entertaining. The simpler things are the better and simplicity never fails. People love simplicity. Even in the organisation structures we see in business these days, the simpler they are the better and more powerful. A great example of Apple and how Steve Jobs was the ultimate decision maker and could make or break ideas. It might sound harsh but at Apple it works.
The “I” in CIO is no longer just about information. It’s now far broader and covers innovation, integration, intelligence, implementation and imagination.
CIOs need to be compelling in improving the digital customer experience.
As CIOs we need to work with our peers to define the business decision making criteria. Help build and maintain a “make $ and save $” register to record technology successes.
The concept of the PR of IT as people, processes and best practices and CIOs working to ensure these are all aligned.
We must see how the overall customer experience works for the business and how this fits with technology. How do we serve the customers (better)?
Big themes in 2013 for the CIO are (and continue to be) the cloud (and moving services to the cloud), BYOD (good old bring your own device into the business), big data and security (which ties in to all the above).
View IT as a benefit centre, not a cost centre. And as a benefit centre IT is then a value contributor to the business. This represents a big shift for many businesses where IT can still be viewed as a back office service provider for the business. But this is changing and there was a general consensus on how this change is accelerating now.
With IT as a benefit centre, prioritise what will get these benefits as early as possible.
Focus on people, not on technology and be compassionate.
CIOs and their (technology) teams will be the engine rooms for major business changes, over the next 3-5 years.
The new norm for how technology teams need to be focused is as 50% strategic, 30% tactical and 20% operational. This is a big shift from now where only 20% is strategic and the vast majority of time and energy is spent maintaining the status quo and keeping the lights on (i.e. BAU). This is all about looking at the commoditisation of IT and moving the BAU parts to be run as lower cost (well) managed services.
For business programmes and projects, move to working with the key stakeholder at the business owner, not just the project sponsor. And with the programmes being business investments, not IT projects.
The CIO needs to be viewed a business leader. And as CIOs we have a unique understanding of the complexity of the business processes.
In many companies there is a vacant seat on the board for the “Chief Customer Officer”. This is someone who acts as a bridge between the CMO, the COO and the CIO divide, and most importantly this person owns the overall end-to-end customer experience.
We need to test the public view of stuff (services that we provide) and to get out and be a consumer of our services. Do they work like they should? And like we expect?
The “Chief Customer Office” is the new board member who represents the customer experience in the market.
Stop talking about something called digital, as something different. It’s all one now. Platforms, channels and media. We need a more holistic approach – something I’ve blogged about before.
We are now in an exponentially changing world, no longer a place where business is linear. Technology is a critical game changer in this new world.
And finally from Dr. Steve Peters, the two key areas to focus on for performance and success, are emotional skills and impulse control, and everything is about probability.