It's time to dive into realms where you don't have all the answers, says Chris Curran of PwC. Ditch outmoded ways of thinking, ask business managers and employees what they need to innovate, and find out what customers want before they even know.
Stories by Chris Curran
Most of the CEOs I know can handle bad news. But I don't know any that like surprises. The CIO who can help the boss more accurately predict the future and manage profitability across economic cycles can be indispensable.
Most CIOs I know have their hearts and minds in the right place. They recognize that they need to be accountable for more than a well-run IT shop. They also aspire to help the company use information to drive innovation and strategic advantage that fulfills the CEO's vision. Here are five issues that CIOs can discuss to capture the CEO's attention and raise the level of discourse to a more strategic level.
Most of the CIOs I speak with are looking at the year ahead as an opportunity to drive innovation within their organizations, usually by automating back office activities. That's a good place to start. But the most aggressive are looking beyond running the IT shop more efficiently and effectively; they're also experimenting with new technologies that can increase profitability, improve competitiveness and attract new customers. We call them ambidextrous innovators.
Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that Apple's iPad has been available for the past couple of months--available for consumers to buy, but also available for companies to find innovative uses for it. Behind its pretty face, the iPad holds a wealth of interactive design potential, and innovative CIOs will ultimately determine how that potential translates to the enterprise.
While they are not Felix Unger and Oscar Madison, a company's CEO and CIO can at times make a fairly odd couple. Differing agendas create significant challenges from the outset. At the same time, we all understand it is critical for the CIO to engage the CEO and senior business leaders in discussions of IT investments. Considering those somewhat contradictory points, what exactly is the state of the union between business and IT leaders?
Portfolio management is poised to go "retro." As organizations are preparing to come out of the recession, they are thinking more broadly about the types of investments that will be required to support business growth. As a result, some organizations are revisiting the idea of portfolio management as a way to organize and evaluate.
If we think of the operation of IT being a lot like that of a complete business, it is important to think about the various types of skills and management styles beyond the typical functional areas, like apps and infrastructure. While it may be sufficient to develop a perspective on your team's strengths organically, a more measured and proactive approach should yield a higher-performing team.
Since we're nearing the end of the 2010 planning cycle, it's as good a time as any to review how we plan projects and whether our processes are as effective as they could be. IT planning never truly ends and tends to eat up more time than we think. As a result, CIOs and their teams have an opportunity to lead the charge to get leaner in planning.
Cloud service providers can make compelling and simple sales pitches in terms of cost of individual services-$100 per user per year sounds pretty good. But "hidden" expenses can alter a company's outlook. Costs related to people, processes, and architecture associated with both the transition and the operations require analysis and planning before signing up for a business case based on a move to the cloud. CIOs and other IT professionals are already well acquainted with such expenses, but the challenge will lie in uncovering them in the relatively unfamiliar cloud model and determining accountability for each.
Experienced CIOs have learned the hard way that achieving tangible benefits early in the technology lifecycle is no easy matter--whether its OO, CMMI, ITIL or SOA. Cloud computing shows promise and demands attention, but the related hoopla needs to be tempered with a good dose of business sense. The cloud, regardless of its variety, should never be considered an all-or-nothing proposition.
Is it enough to lead an IT organization, especially a large and complex one, without any relevant IT background? Moreover, can this CIO find the right perspective to inspire and lead IT managers, analysts, and developers--and bridge the gap between technology and the business?