How CIOs Elevate Their Roles for Digital Growth

CIOs can leverage these four tactics to drive the organization toward digital business change.

To drive digital business innovation in 2015, CIOs must gradually elevate their roles and that of the IT organization to reposition themselves more as agenda setters. Notably, the agenda to be played out over the coming months and years requires more digital business thinking, and this in turn, requires that the entire business leadership team and wider organization become much more knowledgeable about the opportunities. That education won’t just happen on its own. We suggest the following four out-of-the box resolutions for CIOs to lead their organizations towards digital change.

Redesign Your Business on a Blank Sheet of Paper

Expand your horizons. Think way outside the usual boundaries of your role. The founders of Sonos, the successful wireless home speaker system sketched out a stereo system for the modern age on a “clean sheet of paper,” according to an article in Bloomberg BusinessWeek. The idea is simple. Take a very large sheet of blank paper, and gradually sketch out a brand-new version of your business, based on modern digital capabilities. You could do it as a brainstorm day or gradually over a period of weeks.

“Overall, it will lift your confidence and cause you to raise more radical ideas and edgy suggestions in business leadership team discussions,” said Mark Raskino, distinguished analyst and Gartner Fellow.

Create a Fantasy Acquisition List

All over the world, people play “fantasy football”. It’s just a game, but it gets them thinking like a team manager. “The CIO role should grow to include becoming more of a scout for acquisition targets,” said John Mahoney, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. This resolution starts to get you rehearsed for that role shift and elevation. What kinds of startups and other tech companies are out there that might become relevant to your company?

Develop Your Digital Executive Presence

Most CIOs suffer from an image problem in the perception of the world at large and of the rest of their executive leadership colleagues. It’s time to take action to develop your personal presence with tactics including:

  • Find role models outside your enterprise who exhibit the presence you wish to display, and decide how you can do likewise.
  • Learn how to sell your vision for your digital enterprise.
  • Associate yourself with clear ideas and principles. Leadership is personal, so your ideas and principles must be personal, too. Declare where you stand on digital, and use this statement as a direction for IT and as a set of values by which to navigate your personal development and your enterprise’s digital journey.

Name Your Crown Jewel System

Often, the systems that IT operates for the firm carry the names of vendor software companies, and all the staff members use the vendor name, not a local system name. Yet in nearly all large companies, such systems are heavily tailored and adapted to specific local business model and process needs. This situation is a B2B marketing triumph for vendors, but a totemic symbol of powerlessness for the IT function. Claim or reclaim ownership of the key differentiating value that technology systems are providing every day. There must be pride in the fleet, so the systems need local names, and there must be a flagship among them. In companies that have always been recognized for technology application leadership, it’s common to have internal names for systems, repeated out loud many times every day with pride.

Gartner clients can obtain more information and advice from the following reports:
CIO New Year’s Resolution, 2015 by Mark Raskino and John Mahoney
10 CEO Information Technology Resolutions for 2015 by Mark Rarskino
Best Actions in a Decade of CIO Resolutions as CIOs Move from Technical Manager to Digital Leader by John Mahoney and Mark Raskino

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