Posts Tagged ‘information technology culture’

21st

A general does not fight a war alone.  A coach cannot win a game on his own.  And without the dedicated efforts of the IT team, a CIO will fail.

You can establish a terrific vision and direction, but if your team refuses to follow, it is for naught.  You can come up with the best strategy in the world, but if your team cannot execute, what have you gained?  You can talk about the need to be more innovative, but if your team is not engaged, that likely won’t happen. team

“People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision.” —John Maxwell

Leading the IT department is not something you can totally delegate to your IT leadership team.  Yes, these managers are a key element in the ongoing success of the department and the company.  They need your coaching and mentorship (see How Are You Developing IT Bench Strength?).  The relationship that each of your managers has with their individual team members is important to the morale and well-being of the department.  But that cannot substitute for the relationship a CIO should build with each individual in the IT department.

“The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant.” —Max DePree

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3rd

More than 60% of CEOs will hire their next CIO from outside the company, according to a 2013 Gartner survey.  Is that any reflection on you as the current CIO?  What are you doing to develop a great leadership team?Building Bench Strength

The intent to hire the next CIO externally could simply mean that the CEO has a “grass is greener on the other side” mentality.  It might mean that you have inadequately developed the talents of your subordinates, or it could imply that you haven’t yet given them enough PR within the upper echelon of the company.  Or possibly your department simply doesn’t have anyone capable of taking the reins anytime soon and an infusion of additional talent might be needed.  Perhaps, though, it indicates that the CEO isn’t totally satisfied with the current direction and performance of IT. Read the rest of this entry »

10th

There has never been a stronger need for a solid relationship between the CEO and CIO.  Rapid technology advances are causing changes in societal behavior which in turn are having a profound effect on business.  Social and mobile technologies have given new power to the customer to compare products, solicit/discover third-party product recommendations, publicly voice their support or displeasure, and buy from anywhere.  This has ushered in the ‘Age of the Customer’ which Forrester defines as a “20-year business cycle in which the most successful enterprises will reinvent themselves to systematically understand and serve increasingly powerful customers” (Technology Management in the Age of the Customer). Connecting

Technology is also enabling disruption of entire industries.  Think about the effect, for example, that Amazon has had on retail brick & mortar booksellers.  In fact, an IBM study found that 41% of CEOs expect increased competition from companies outside their industry in the near future (The Customer Activated Enterprise).  They also recognize that companies within their industry are using big data/analytics to improve their decision-making and more precisely target customers.  CEOs are placing a priority on shaking up the status quo in their organization.  There is a sense of urgency and a push for innovation, and technology is obviously a major part of the solution.

But in too many companies, there is a disconnect between the CEO and the CIO.  Jim Stikeleather writes in a Harvard Business Review blog about a research study on the changing role of the CIO and IT (The IT Conversation We Should Be Having).  In short, the study found that CEOs believe that CIOs are not in sync with the new issues CEOs are facing.  In addition, CEOs feel that CIOs do not understand where the business needs to go and do not have a strategy truly supportive of the business.  More specifically, almost half of CEOs feel IT should be a commodity service purchased as needed and do not feel that their CIO understands the business nor how to apply IT in new ways to the business.  Moreover, a KPMG survey found that only 5% of executives feel that their business and IT strategies are 100% aligned (Executives See Disconnect Between Strategy and Technology Within Their Organizations).  Given this, is there any wonder at the call for the elimination of the Chief Information Officer position and/or the addition of other C-level positions like the Chief Innovation Officer, Chief Data Officer, or Chief Digital Officer? (Will CDO Steal CIO’s Leadership Role?)  Yet I can’t help but feel that the major issue here is that too many CIOs have not truly gotten involved in the business and have not worked to develop a solid relationship with the CEO and other C-suite executives.

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5th

Perhaps no C-suite relationship today is more broken than the relationship between the CMO and CIO.  In the past, there has been little need to collaborate.  Far too often the CIO functioned as a technologist who was not recognized for having a complete view of the overall business.  He concentrated more on cost cutting and efficiency.  On the other hand, the CMO was about direct mail, magazine advertisements, and television spots.  He was aimed primarily toward branding, lead generation, and communication.cmo-cio-best-friends1  They were almost like two ships passing in the night.  Neither had a tremendous need to interact with the other.  Each was relegated to (or chose to remain in) his own realm.  In some ways, there have been a number of similarities between the two positions.  It was quite normal for neither of them to actually sit on the executive team.  Corporate strategies were often determined without their input.  Just as the CIO struggled to explain the return on infrastructure investments, the CMO had difficulty proving the value of investment in various marketing programs.  It should not be surprising to learn that both the CIO and CMO have struggled in developing relationships with the rest of the C-suite (Outside Looking In:  The CMO Struggles to get in sync with the C-suite and The DNA of the CIO).

But as a result of societal, business, and competitive changes driven primarily by big data, analytics, cloud, social, and mobile technologies, the pressure is on both the CMO and CIO to transform themselves, their departments, and their relationships with other executives in order to ensure the success of their companies.  They need to markedly increase the collaboration between them.  Both need to move from their functional silos into becoming recognized leaders within the broader business context.  This will take a concerted effort – and for the benefit of the company, it needs to be done quickly.

Here are some suggestions for the CIO to improve his relationship with the CMO:

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22nd

“What business are you in?”  Ask any IT practitioner this question and you will likely hear something like, “I’m in IT.”

Let’s face it.  Most IT people do not seem to see themselves as bankers, manufacturers, retailers, or distributors.  They see themselves as IT professionals.  After all, couldn’t they easily take their skills to another industry that uses similar technology?lemonade stand

It is true that an IT professional may perhaps be able to switch industries easier than those in some other professions.  But a single-minded focus on technology (rather than on the larger business environment that actually writes the paychecks) prevents your company from truly benefitting from all the talents at their disposal.

In his book Get Out of I.T. While You Can, Craig Schiefelbein proposes an interesting exercise.  Pick out any IT professional in your company.  Now imagine your CEO recruiting that individual on the spur of the moment to show some important potential customers around the company.  You could expect the customers to ask typical questions like:

  • What is your target market for each of your products?
  • Who are the major competitors for each of your products and what are your advantages as compared to your competition?  What are the selling points your competitors use against you?
  • What else differentiates you from your competition?
  • What is your company doing to ensure me that it will still be around in five or ten years?
  • What are you doing to improve the customer experience?

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