For today’s transformational CIO, objectives should focus not only on IT operations, but on IT strategy – that is, leveraging IT to drive digital transformation and fuel business growth.
Duties such as these go above and beyond the CIO’s traditional mandate, which has typically revolved around IT service management (ITSM).
To successfully evolve beyond this role, CIOs will need to rethink the role of IT in their organization and redefine their IT strategy.
See below for a step-by-step approach on how to do just that.
The Transformational CIO: Objectives for a Successful IT Strategy
Today’s CIO should view IT not only as the machinery that powers a business, but as an enabler of growth and as a driver of innovation.
IT strategies, therefore, should be aimed at targets such as:
- Building a competitive advantage in the marketplace
- Fueling expansion in the marketplace
- Creating better products, services, and experiences for customers
- Improving organizational efficiency and performance
In short, IT should become a catalyst for organizational transformation and competitive differentiation.
To create an IT agenda that meets the needs of one’s own organization, it is best to start by assessing the organization’s needs.
Identify the Needs of the Organization
Business initiatives almost always begin with assessments and analyses.
Here are a few examples of assessments that can be useful:
- Conduct a needs assessment
- Analyze the organization’s environment through a PEST analysis
- Assess the internal and external strengths and weaknesses with a SWOT analysis
- Use a gap analysis to understand the divide between where the organization is now and where it needs to be
- Market assessments can help leaders learn more about the customers and the overall landscape of a market
- A competitive analysis can provide insight into competitors’ IT strategies, products, services, and more
In short, these assessments will tell business leaders where the organization is, where it needs to be, and the best route to get there.
Identify the Needs of the Workforce
Employees make up an organization, so it is important to assess their needs alongside the needs of the business.
Here are a few tests, questionnaires, and analyses that can be useful:
- A corporate culture analysis
- Skills tests
- A technology acceptance questionnaire
- Surveys that gauge employee sentiment
- Change readiness assessments
- A force field analysis
The information collected in these assessments will describe both how capable employees are, on the one hand.
It will also help leaders better understand their attitudes towards any potential solutions that might have been identified in the organizational assessments.
Set Goals, Strategize, and Plan
The information collected in the assessments listed above can help CIOs develop a course of action that is appropriate for the organization as well as the people.
Proposed plans of action, however, should be further evaluated to ensure their soundness, through rigor tests and scenario-based planning, for instance.
Here are several points to cover when transforming the IT strategy into an actual roadmap, or agenda:
- Articulate the IT strategy in a concise sentence that can be communicated to all stakeholders
- Use that “north star” to define a core set of priorities, or goals
- Translate those goals into quantifiable objectives
- Develop a set of KPIs and metrics that can evaluate the progress of the plan
In short, for an IT strategy to actually move the organization forward, it is necessary to translate that strategy into goals, measurable objectives, and activities.
Since today’s economy is undergoing constant change, IT strategies often go hand-in-hand with digital transformation and organizational change. This is one reason why it is important to be comprehensive when performing the assessments covered earlier.
Another implication of this is that, as transformational business leaders, CIOs must learn to lead and manage business transformation programs.
Lead and Manage Change
The transformational CIO must now wear many hats – IT operations manager, people manager, business strategist, and change leader, among others.
Fortunately or unfortunately, this means that “simple” IT strategies are often not simple at all.
Instead, IT agendas often involve:
- Digital transformation
- Digital adoption
- Technology-driven innovation
- Organizational culture change
When implementing a digital strategy in volatile economic conditions, therefore, CIOs must rethink the way they operate. Traditional approaches, such as waterfall development and project-based IT, will rarely be successful.
Instead, when designing their IT strategies for the digital future, CIOs should:
- Adopt agile practices
- Implement continuous improvement processes
- Use technology to drive operational improvements
- Leverage data and emerging technology to constantly innovate
- Build a culture of learning that puts data and technology first
In short, IT strategies should be overhauled for speed, agility, and innovation – all of which will become more and more essential in the years ahead.
How CIOs Can Thrive and Compete in the Digital Future
The years ahead will be characterized by increased digital transformation, accelerated change, and more digital innovation, among other things.
To stay competitive and relevant, CIOs will need to proactively adopt new IT strategies and aggressively drive digital transformation plans, as discussed above.
For more information on how to succeed in post-COVID “next normal,” see these articles on our blog:
- Preparing for the Next Normal: A Guide for CIOs and IT Teams
- How to Plan for Digital Adoption in the Next Normal
- 10 CIO Strategies to Adopt in 2021
The years ahead will be fast-paced, exciting, and full of opportunity – but CIOs shouldn’t wait to prepare for that digital future.