For Transformational Technology Leadership: The CIO must have a seat at the table
With the plethora of C-Suite personnel occupying a proverbial seat at the leadership table (CEOs, CFOs, COOs, CMOs), there is one individual who, even in 2020, still seems to be missing more often than not – the CIO.
Why, with so many IT conferences centered around the strategic use of technology and the shifting role of IT in the workplace, do we see some organizations continue to discount the impact of IT in business success? My belief is that some do indeed realize the benefit, but unfortunately have the wrong person spearheading their IT operations; others have a blind spot and don’t see the strategic value of IT at all.
Tim Crawford, a prominent advisor to CIOs and someone who has held senior IT positions at Konica and Stanford University, has stated, “The transformational CIO is a business leader first that has responsibility for technology. They’re aligned closely with the CEO, rest of the C suite, and objectives of the board of directors. But they are looking at ways to bring technology to the forefront. Instead of tech for tech’s sake, it’s business first”. The traditional paradigm where needs and requirements are gathered from colleagues, customers, a board, and then prioritized by a committee does not enable the CIO to implement technology solutions that deliver REAL business outcomes in a timely manner.
Many successful CIOs have credited their ability to drive innovation by supporting a shift from the outdated belief of IT as “an office expense that management wishes they didn’t have”, to an integral part of the future strategic planning of their organization. This fact alone lends credence to the idea that in order to achieve growth (especially in the age of rapid change and data overload), the CIO’s role must evolve from the previous stereotype of the relegated officer who simply “keeps the lights on”, to a prominent leader who drives innovation, strategy, and core business value.
With technology touching every department in an organization and playing a role in every industry, alignment with the C-suite and customers is paramount for the CIO. They must be enabled to evaluate and implement solutions that extract maximum value from the information at hand and link outcomes to overall business objectives, while simultaneously executing on the corporate vision. Conversely, if this is not achieved, technology will be deployed for the sake of technology, which simply causes confusion, competing objectives, and low morale.
In a sense, technology can be the base or tip of the pyramid, but it is never the entire pyramid; it is only a part of the overall solution – a critical piece of the strategic puzzle, akin to your employees, sales strategy, branding, logistics, customer support, or financial reporting.
Just as a good oncologist knows about the latest research in cancer treatment, a company’s CIO is tuned into all the latest trends in the tech world and how your company may benefit. The era of true transformational leadership is already upon us, and the CIO has a role to play in helping set the course of your organization for years to come. The business and technology strategies of an organization are intrinsically linked; therefore, it is in your company’s best interest to have the proper individuals at the table, not just filling a seat, but truly engaged and working together to chart the successful future of your organization.