Smart Strategies from #SocialCIOs – CIO Executive Council

Social CIOIn these times of digital transformation, social media is becoming more and more necessary for business leaders, especially for CIO’s who are in most cases leading the charge.

I was approached by the CIO Executive Council at IDG to contribute to a blog piece about this where I answer questions about how I use social media, the benefits it gives me and some tips on how business leaders can get involved.

Please click here to see the blog piece.

 

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‘CIO 2.0’ – The next evolutionary stage of the CIO role

I was inspired to comment about my thoughts on the CIO 2.0 role after reading an excellent article by Michael Krigsman on ZDNet entitled “CIO Survival: Digital mindset and the impact on IT” – click here to read the full article.
Michael does an excellent job of labelling the various components of a digital mindset that every CIO and IT leader must understand (see table copied in below with full original credits to Michael Krigsman).

I’ve long advocated the need for CIO’s to move forward and embrace this ‘new’ CIO 2.0 role to not only increase the value they provide to their organisations but crucially the value they provide to its customers.
The tolerance for old-school CIO’s is diminishing and companies now rightly demand more from the role.

digital-mindset-it-impact

Full original credits to Michael Krigsman

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Keep it Simple

 

Abstract business collage

The age-old adage of ‘keep it simple’ could never be more prevalent in today’s world.

With the sheer mountain of data growing exponentially within organisations every day, and the raft of applications and platforms in use, it’s very easy to make everything more complicated than it needs to be.
Keeping on top of technology used within your company is difficult enough as it is, without contemplating prototyping and trialling other options that your suppliers, network or your own research informs you about.
This leads to complicated matrix-style organisational structures that require skilled resources to support specific applications, and fill you with dread every time you get a holiday request from key staff or worse a resignation letter. Throw digital requirements into the mix, as well as the need to innovate, and your organisation quickly gets a lot more complicated.

That’s why it’s so important to standardise and reduce proprietary systems as much as you can. These more standardised platforms will not only let you markedly reduce the complexity of your organisation, but will also allow a much easier ride when recruiting staff into key areas due to their more plentiful availability in the market.

I know not everyone feels the same, but when you think along the lines of standardising your platforms and/or systems, you start to see the appeal of the cloud. A well interfaced, easily accessible application, which allows you some form of customisation, but not the wholesale changes your business owners normally request, and all wrapped up in a nice business continuity assurance bow.

Another key feature of cloud adoption is the ability to upgrade and take on new features or improvements at a far more rapid rate than you can on your internal and more proprietary systems. This means not only simplifying your architecture, but getting key new features to your business units more frequently, who will be able to do more at a faster rate than before, and which ultimately may well give them the competitive advantage they were looking for.
Obviously, the majority of you will end up with a blend of cloud and internally hosted systems, but in the quest for a simpler and less complex organisation, you should never discount any form or way of best serving your business.

By now you’re thinking this is easier said than done, and that everyone’s nirvana is to have standardised platforms with simple and straightforward support structures, but it’s just not achievable with everything else going on. If you plan, budget and structure your architecture correctly, you can phase your way through towards this ‘nirvana’ at a more rapid rate than you think.

This simple and standardised structure will allow you more scope to better manage and serve your organisations, as well as making it far easier to roll out any new products or solutions and integrate any acquisitions.

Your organisation will thank you for your efforts, so good luck with your journeys and remember to keep it simple.

This post has also been featured on the HP Business Value Exchange here 

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You Snooze, You Lose

idgSnoozeYouLoseI’ve written in the past about how to foster and grow innovation within your organisation, however, the number one response I hear from firms I work with is how they would love to innovate, but due to the complexity of their business they don’t know where to start, what to prioritise or how to make the time to get started.

My response is always to not think negatively and look to stifle innovation before you’ve even begun, but to start by talking to key stakeholders, customer-facing staff and your actual clients to find out what their business critical issues are, and work together to find out where and how you can help.

Often through this exercise, you find that just by reallocating resources or efforts from one thing which isn’t working to another that will yield tangible results is a great first step. This not only energises your staff, but more importantly re-engages your clients when using your products and solutions.

Some may say that this is not innovation in its truest form, but the companies that are smart enough to be proactive and re-engage their clients through these straightforward exercises will be the ones that win their future contracts and support. Those that don’t and then wonder why their forecasts need to be constantly updated and their revenues sharply decline will quickly follow suit, but with a delayed response that may prove difficult to catch up. Make the time now and don’t fall further behind your competitors, who are actively allocating time and resources to this, as well as working hard on reducing their internal complexity and inertia. Those that do stifle innovation and put it off are those most susceptible to the disruptors that are now operating within most formalised industries.

These disruptors are not only looking to have a share of your industry, they are looking to consume your key revenue streams and will quickly devour those with a lazy or old-fashioned approach to innovation and change. Your clients are more technically savvy and service oriented than they have ever been, and will quickly migrate to these new industry charges even if they do have a few rough edges. A good reputation is key to any organisation, but living off the past and not moving forward is the biggest sin of all.

When you reverse engineer a strategy and work from the customer inward, the most startling revelation is often how more straightforward and agile you need to make your organisation versus the complex and multi-layered behemoth you have in place, which has grown exponentially over a long period of time. This is a key reason why larger companies with these huge, complex back-ends with structured process and formalised procedures find it harder to innovate.

Many are now forming innovation units within their organisations to work and partner with start-up incubators and accelerators, to engage with innovative and game-changing start-ups (a lot of the work I do). This includes larger corporates acquiring these nimbler and more agile start-ups, looking to integrate them and their services in to their front line services to their feature-hungry clients.
The main problem here is that the more creative staff that they bring across quickly tire of the formalities and procedure laden nature of their new host and look to exit quicker than planned.

This rigidity and reluctance to ‘free up’ these more creative individuals from your normal working practices not only contradicts the very reason you acquired them in the first place but continues to stifle innovation, as well as making it a very expensive and time-consuming process to boot.

Don’t let the complexity of your organisation and your faith in the past stop you from innovating and charging ahead.

This post has also been featured on the HP Business Value Exchange here 

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