Ten CIO New Year’s Resolutions to Drive Success

Reshape your influence, resources and IT organization by committing to these actions in 2016

How will you make 2016 a better year for your enterprise, and by extension, for yourself? Last year, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and founder of Facebook, put his New Year’s resolutions to the crowdsourcing test, with a public post calling for suggestions from Facebook’s legions of members.

“CIOs have a more direct, action-oriented approach available,” said Patrick Meehan, Research VP at Gartner. He and his fellow analysts brainstormed a list of ideas designed to help you become a more proactive agent for change in your IT organization and enterprise.

“CIOs should use this list as inspiration,” said Mark Raskino, VP & Gartner Fellow and co-author of Digital to the Core, Remastering Leadership for Your Industry, Your Enterprise, and Yourself. “Choose and commit to three or four of these resolutions in 2016.”

1. Take a board member out to breakfast

The opportunities and challenges that you see as CIO need to resonate all the way to the top. Each quarter, invite one or two members of your board of directors to update them on how technology is impacting your business.

2. Power map your leadership network

Enterprise CIOs have too many matrixed relationships to try to exert influence and buy-in with everyone. Create a power map of advocates, adversaries and neutral parties, and consider how you might convert the neutrals and neutralize the antagonists.

3. Link to your CEO and board’s top metrics

What is your CEO really focused on? Your IT performance metrics should be tied to those objectives. The promises that your CEO makes to shareholders in the annual report is a good way to identify what’s most important.

4. Revisit your CMO relationship

Marketing departments have made enormous investments in sensors, location awareness and mobility technologies to unlock digital business moments. Collaborate with your chief marketing officer as an information partner, rather than a technology partner, to drive innovation through new data sources.

5. Develop a business sacrifice list and divest a system every quarter

To get budget for that next big digital initiative, the business might want to take a hard look at selling assets, or shutting down systems or even lines of business that don’t fit your long-term strategy. Make a list of assets that could be sold or systems that are a drain on the budget.

6. Develop a techquisitions list

What if you could buy the digital capabilities that you need instead of developing them on your own? This is a core strategy for Google, Amazon and Facebook, as well as traditional companies like Under Armour, and it’s worth a back-of-the-napkin exercise.

7. Exploit crowdsourcing more widely

No single person drives innovation – it takes a crowd, and the crowd extends far outside the leadership team and IT organization. Some of the best ideas come from unexpected places. Resolve to determine how social media or some other collaborative mechanism can help unearth competitive advantage.

8. Deliberately cross an organizational boundary line

Digital business is fluid and dynamic. Enterprise organizational structures are not. Stake your claim to innovation by initiating experiments and incubating talent. If the competency that you develop is a success, and winds up in a different department, that’s still a success for you.

9. Shift your IT thinking from “how, and what skills,” to “why, and which competencies”

Talent is the core of innovation. “Hard” skills alone shouldn’t guide where your talent fits into the purpose of a project or program. Assess a continuum of behavioral characteristics, which include a knack for being attuned to business levers, instigating new solutions, and educating others on what is possible.

10. Write three to five digital behavior maxims and make them wallpaper

Think about your objectives for the year. What are the most important behaviors that will drive success? Now, express them in two- to five-word slogans (for example, “iterate wildly” or “show the thing”), and place them everywhere, so everyone sees them every day.


Gartner clients can read more detail about these recommendations and others in the report: ‘CIO New Year's Resolutions, 2016’ by Patrick Meehan.

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