Today CIO’s focus on the right things, but is the right attention given to exploring future opportunities?

Chief Information Officers (CIO’s) are often challenged with staying current on technological trends and consistently delivering solution projects. In addition, CIO’s often struggle with allocating the right time, attention and focus towards: strategy, service delivery, issue resolution and the future of technology. The good news is that today’s CIO’s have started to better prioritize time and energy spent on strategic technology matters, tactical execution of solutions, however the world of technology management has changed in various ways, and …

Today CIO’s find themselves in a situation where:

  • Technology has become the business. In almost every industry, most firms have an online internet presence and for many firms, technology is at the core of the business, and for others, technology and information processing has not only become common, but replaced paper.
  • Technology is an enabler and is the business. Business processes become more integrated with technology, from online transaction processing, to in-house processing and data storage.
  • Technology problems tend to get resolved by a collective C-suite team. In addition to business participants, there is a blurring of role lines with clearer division of labor between the CIO, the CTO (Chief Technology Officer) and CDO (Chief Digital Officer).
  • Business transformation is starting to leverage technology innovation. Under proper governance practices, steering and working groups are spending more time discussing ideas, proposing new solutions and collaborating on technological innovation.
  • The role of the CIO has become as all-inclusive role, with responsibility for all aspects of information management. This includes accountability for strategy, innovation, delivery, optimization, and management.
  • CIO’s have broader choices when it comes to resource management. Technology groups now have resource portfolios inclusive of blended skilled, dedicated employees, contractors, 3rd party partners, and vendors.

Today CIO’s focus on the following right trends…

but is the right attention given to future opportunities?

  1. Focusing on the “Future of Technology”:

Yester-year, the focus was: Build out software for the near-term, run the “factory”, optimize servers and get client requirements, build solutions, and manage expectations.

  • Today’s focus is: Ideation and project review forums that encourage active representation in a collective collaboration focused, planning and solution roadmap reviews.
  • Future opportunity focus: For the future, forward looking view of technology; CIO’s should expect to continue to manage technology for today, and tomorrow, but put more emphasis on engaging more closely with industry experts, clients in future focused technology forums such as innovation labs and solution think-tanks. These forums start with the Long-Term (3-5 year) roadmap, but also focus on the market offerings and trends associated with horizontal and vertical integration of services, solutions and partnerships.

2. Demand management and prioritization: 

Yester-year, the focus was: Traditionally, in the past, IT and Business employed “siloed” governance and prioritization processes; IT aligned with the business, documented decisions, and “figured it out”, but it was a lengthy process that was neither collaborative nor inclusive.

  • Today’s focus is: Clients demand to “do more with less”, expect integrated tools with client teams deciding where to optimize, where to invest, and how much to spend?
  • Future opportunity focus: With the advent of mature governance models, advanced business intelligence (BI), artificial intelligence (AI), forward thinking models, demand planning, and automated decisioning, CIO’s can expect faster, more predictable decisioning, anticipate changes in advance, and be in a better position to more predictably manage time, resources and costs.

3. Real-time Governance:

Yester-year, the focus was: Outdated technology management practices of meeting-up with the business counterparts to discuss topics annually, monthly and daily and address tactical execution, such as: running IT, building technology and managing resources.

  • Today’s focus is: Deployment of integrated cross-functional engagement model inclusive of representative management, stakeholders, clients, partners and collaborators in disciplined repetitive forums with clear ownership, decision rights and outcome tracking.
  • Future opportunity focus: CIO’s can expect a future governance model to include active participation from internal decision-makers, industry experts, and 3rd parties parties with real-time ongoing reviews, automated scenario planning with metrics to drive pragmatic and informed decisions.

4. Business Transformation:

Yester-year, the focus was: Typically, business owners spent time on business technology strategy and would send the CIO the requirements to design, build, test and deploy solutions.

  • Today’s focus is: Transformation managed as a joint team effort between the business, IT, and various internal stakeholders. It is run as a program, with horizontal representation across the enterprise with agreed upon deliverable outcomes and results.
  • Future opportunity focus: CIO’s can picture a scenario where cross functional teams will replace functional technology forums. Technology teams will evolve into enterprise collaboration agile forums with enterprise and industry representation. These teams will be chartered to solve business technology issues across business processes instead of single functional point solutions.

5. Future state solutions: 

Yester-year, the focus was: Firms typically maintained a vertical single solution focus, that may not have scaled-well, had limited functionality and only served short term client needs.

  • Today’s focus is: A horizontal future state business process team collaborating and collectively focusing on full-lifecycle solution development from strategy (build/buy/host/improve) to sourcing, to definition, to development, to support and optimization of technology solutions.
  • Future opportunity focus: Technology component-based solutioning will become digitized including on-going reviews, use of visually interactive collaborative tools to enable CIO’s and business counterparts to better plan, anticipate changes, execute and calibrate technology. More emphasis will be placed on selection and quantification of technology solution benefits.

6. Efficiency, consistency and effectiveness of technology management:

Yester-year, the focus was: The CIO ran the factory and kept systems running, built software for todays needs and attempted to measure efficiency and effectiveness of technology and services;kept track of delivery and not necessarily improving processes, practices, consistency and better utilization of resources, closing skills gaps and filling headcount budgets.

  • Today’s focus is: Business clients and CIO’s expect results. After all, time is money. CIO’s have benefited greatly and have easy access to: on-demand service delivery and fulfillment; the emergence of cloud solutions; (x) As-A-Service; pre-built, customizable products and package solutions, better access to and cheaper service provision, and standardization of strategic advisory. Service delivery expectations have increased, with CIOs demanding shorter timeframes from internal and service providers to get higher quality resources at cheaper prices. Technology has become the ENABLER of business, IS the business, and so therefore delivery of technology is under the microscope. Solving complexity is the CIO’s challenge.
  • Future opportunity focus: CIO’s and business expect to leverage technology better: as an enabler (of change/as a service/and as a business outcome); be better able to demonstrate success in terms of on-demand services, reduced costs, reduced timelines, and be more predictable when proposing and delivering solutions.

Written by Terry Coull. Terry is a management consultant focusing on transformation and continuous improvement in technology today. This is part 2 of a series of informative team-centric leading practice white-papers.

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