More than 70 percent of Chief Information Officers (CIOs) believe that aligning information technology (IT) activities with business strategies is critical to their personal success, according to recent research from technology consulting firm Deloitte. In order to achieve this alignment, CIOs must proactively come up with solutions to address business challenges rather than settling for a more traditional reactive technological role.
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In the same study, 50 percent of CIOs identified personal strategic execution as a key factor in whether or not the CIO is able to find success in his or her role. To be considered successful in this category, CIOs overwhelmingly said they must deliver a reliable, consistent, scalable, and secure IT environment for their respective organizations. Unfortunately, only 10 percent of respondents said security is a top business priority, which means there are fewer resources dedicated to the fourth aspect of this strategic execution than CIOs believe there should be.
Almost half (47 percent) of respondents said their ability to foster innovation and disruption—via new technological approaches to driving value to the business and customers—is critical to success. This characteristic requires that CIOs develop an unambiguous goal for delivering business value and clearly articulating how to achieve these goals. Unfortunately, only one in three CIOs believe that this is a possible capability within their organization.
Recruitment and employee performance management is another important aspect of running a successful technology division. Forty-five percent of CIOs said that engaging, motivating, and acquiring talent is crucial to a CIO's success. Unfortunately, the report indicates that CIOs believe they must overcome low employee and business expectations, and a tradition of mediocre performance, in order to be successful.
What Makes a CIO Successful?
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Deloitte found the 1,200 CIOs surveyed for the report to be less contemplative, relationship-oriented, risk averse, and deliberate than C-level executives in other fields, according to self-selected criteria. The data also shows CIOs to be more technical, visually oriented, ambiguity-tolerant, and competitive than their C-level counterparts.
CIOs told Deloitte they are currently most focused on building growth, enhancing performance, reducing business costs, and managing security. However, CIOs believe their organization's business priorities don't necessarily align with what the technology division believes is best for the company. This issue typically arises because organizations view IT as a responsive team that should solve existing issues rather than a team that should be actively pursuing solutions to future problems. Additionally, as business priorities shift, CIOs must be able to handle these shifts regardless of the depths to which IT has invested in previous business priorities.
The Digital Push
As organization's focus on digital transformation on the back end as well as on the consumer side, it's critical for CIOs to lead the push, according to the report. CIOs should be primarily focused on connecting ideas and solutions across the business. CIOs can help connect different aspects of the business across one digital thread in order to modernize and simplify an organization's digital makeover. The report uses the Internet of Things (IoT) as an example of areas in which IT can bridge traditional, non-digital practices with modern technology.
Additionally, CIOs will need to build this effort within the IT department before it can be exported to the rest of the organization. Rather than working with legacy applications, processes, and budgets, IT must modernize the IT stack in order to achieve cost savings and simplify the ability to initiate broad change across the enterprise.
CIOs must also lead the charge with regards to new partnerships with technology vendors. What should be done in-house? Which processes should be outsourced? To whom should the processes be outsourced? The CIO should actively recommend answers to these questions and help forge new partnerships as the enterprise pushes into a digital-first mentality, according to the report.