‘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.

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Full original credits to Michael Krigsman

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Keep it Simple

 

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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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Mentor at IncuBus Ventures

IncuBus Ventures LogoI am delighted to have become a mentor at IncuBus Ventures providing hands-on mentoring to entrepreneurs, founding CEOs and their teams across a variety of industries especially around innovation, strategy, product development, technology, business development and investor relations.

IncuBus Ventures is helping get entrepreneurs and their startups ready for the world’s best accelerators and funding via our 12 week incubator programmes.
The programmes include skills based workshops, mentoring and access to workspace.
Learn more about the programme at www.incubuslondon.com

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The Top 10 Strategic CIO Issues For 2016

2016 cio oracle forbesThe toughest job in corporate America, says Oracle CEO Mark Hurd, is the CIO’s. While I agree with Hurd’s assessment, I also believe that business-minded, forward-looking CIO’s have an incredible opportunity to play leading roles in the digital/physical revolution that is transforming every facet of our lives.
CIO’s of the world, it’s time to jump into this revolution fearlessly and joyfully because your backgrounds, your perspectives, your expertise, and your imaginations are needed desperately by your companies as they attempt to engage deeply in this richly blended digital/physical mix—or risk slipping into a nonstop decline marked by unfixable difficulties, growing irrelevance, and, ultimately, oblivion.

As Oracle CIO Mark Sunday says, “This is the most challenging time in history to be a CIO, because in order to survive, organisations need to embrace new technologies at an unparalleled pace. But by the same token, CIO’s have never had a better opportunity to add value to their organisations—if they embrace the challenge.”

Welcome to the fourth annual list of the major challenges and opportunities global CIO’s will face in the coming year. In last year’s prognostication, we noted, “Throughout 2014, the CIO profession was subjected to a baffling series of apocalyptic forecasts and dire predictions that have proven to be laughably wrong,” and asked, “Where did all these distortions and misperceptions about the stewards of IT strategy and execution come from?”

And as we head into 2016, I have to say that those prophets of doom, who just 12 to 18 months ago were so doggedly insistent that CIO’s were about to take permanent residence next to the Dodo, have changed their tunes, rewritten their histories, and realised that the vectors of profound change in today’s global economy—cloud computing, the Internet of Things, mobile everywhere, social lifestyles blending with social commerce, and the blurring of enterprise tech and personal tech—point to nothing but a greatly enriched future for smart and aggressive CIO’s.

From our perspective, we see that future coalescing around four key activities or attributes that world-class CIO’s are embracing:

  • Creators of a new cultural outlook of aggressive possibilities, of new products and services, and of new capabilities, all of which are essential building blocks in their company’s digital transformation;
  • Evangelists for cloud computing and its transformative potential, for social business, for data-driven decision-making, and for digital-first thinking throughout the organisation;
  • Transformers of corporate culture as IT pivots from reactive responder to aggressive innovator; from “you’ll take what we give you” to “we’ll accelerate and enhance your initiatives”; and from analog paper-based processes to digital workflows and collaborative approaches driven by data;
  • Accelerators of everything from product development to procurement, and from decision-making to deployment of resources as the epochal shift to cloud computing liberates huge chunks of IT budgets and paves the way for truly customer-centric business.

 

Top 10 Strategic CIO Issues for 2016

  1. Create New Revenue Streams. The digitisation of our everyday lives opens up huge possibilities for IT-inspired innovation in new products, new services, new data-as-a-product offerings, and other innovations that enhance customer engagement while also boosting revenue.
  2. Create a New Can-Do Culture. Cloud computing and the ongoing explosion of social/mobile services offer CIO’s superb building blocks for demonstrating to business units around the world that the IT organisation has permanently shed its “Dr. No” persona, with the initials “IT” now representing what the CIO’s team really stands for: innovation/transformation.
  3. Create Dazzling—and Relevant—New Apps. What percentage of the IT organisation is now focused on building customer-centric apps? How does that figure compare to last year? How much will it grow in 2016? World-class CIO’s will find ways to transform their teams into engines of customer engagement, with app creation at the centre.
  4. Evangelise the Business Benefits of Cloud Computing. Are you talking to the CMO about SOA, or about the lifetime value of customers? In the cloud, product-development cycle times are shorter, customer trends can be spotted more quickly, top performers can co-create career-development plans, and the CFO can stop being a historian. Are you telling these stories clearly and passionately?
  5. Evangelise the Power of Digital Business. As GE CIO Jim Fowler noted above, the marriage of digital capabilities with traditional products and services opens up big possibilities for creating new value for customers—new insights into how products are performing, which new services are most profitable, where to promote certain products at certain times, and which high-performing people are at risk of leaving.
  6. Transform Traditional Ideas/Silos of “What We Do.” Per the opening quotation of this article, wearable tech is starting to turn the medical field upside down, and we’re seeing digitally activated shelves in retail, intelligent sensors revolutionising preventive maintenance, ingestible medications, driverless cars, smart clothing, and much more. How can the CIO disrupt traditional thinking within her company by showcasing what already is, as well as what is possible?
  7. Transform Customer Engagement. A while back, the newly named CIO of one of Asia’s leading airlines described his company’s eye-popping realisation that top customers desired zero human interaction until they were actually on the plane. What customers really want is often greatly at odds with what we as businesses are accustomed to—or comfortable—delivering. In 2016, CIO’s must help lead the way in bridging this gap and driving customer-centric engagements.
  8. Transform Decision-Making from Gut-Level to Data-Driven. Think of the astonishing volumes of data residing within large organisations—and think how few of those valuable assets are being exploited to enhance the decision-making ability of employees at all levels of the company. CIO’s have a perfect opportunity to work with business leaders to unlock those data assets and put them to work in delivering real-world, real-time insights that create success for the business, for customers, and for employees.
  9. Accelerate the Reversal of the 80/20 Budget Trap via Cloud Computing. Before cloud computing, the #1 enemy of the CIO was the economic reality that about 80% of his IT budget would be consumed by low-value maintenance and integration. Because cloud computing pushes that burden over to cloud vendors, CIO’s can liberate huge portions of their budgets and reallocate them to projects centred on growth and customer engagement. The faster this happens, the better.
  10. Accelerate Deployment of World-Class Cybersecurity. The traditional IT operating model was a security nightmare because IT environments were made up of thousands of disparate components cobbled together, with each piece requiring its own unique security protocols. In the cloud, CIO’s have the opportunity to flip that model from thousands of vulnerabilities to a single, unified, top-to-bottom cybersecurity stack where the cloud vendor shoulders that burden. (Oracle believes security has to be built in at every layer of the cloud stack, and that’s become a competitive differentiator for Oracle Cloud.) And remember, cybersecurity is a journey, not a destination. As Sunday has said, “your cybersecurity capabilities need to evolve continuously in order to meet an ever-more sophisticated and ever-evolving threat landscape. Having world-class cybersecurity means having the ability to detect and remediate today’s threats, while maintaining the capability to morph to meet the needs of tomorrow.”

And as 2016 looms, best wishes to all you CIO’s out there for a year filled with achievement, excitement, engagement, and success. I hope it’s a year in which you get to flex those muscles that let you create, evangelise, transform, and accelerate in ways that dazzle and delight your customers, and bring opportunities and success to you and your colleagues. As Christopher Lochhead says, “Knock ‘em alive!”

Full credit for the article to Bob Evans, SVP and Chief Communications Officer for Oracle – Please share your feedback with him on Twitter at @bobevansIT

 

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Everyday Innovation – Small steps to big progress

idgeveryinnovOrganisations can be obsessed with producing the next big industry innovation, and then become profoundly disappointed when it does not occur at the pace or scale they want. Naturally, everyone wants to speed up their innovation cycle beyond one or maybe two genius ideas every one to two years, but this cannot be expected and is exceptionally hard to maintain.

In recent years, we have all seen Apple release game-changing products that disrupt entire markets, but what we don’t know is the lead time from initial idea to market release. The company concentrates and focuses on innovation at a level never before seen in the commercial world: for example, it has over 800 people solely dedicated to working on the iPhone’s camera. It is open about the power of its open and innovative culture, which supports its ability to deliver these amazing products, and more importantly, it’s always quick to register that without the support and efforts of the whole organisation they would not be achievable.

To maintain a level of innovation or to bring your organisation up to speed, you will need to alter or adapt the culture and mindset of your organisation to one that not only fosters but also rewards it. This focus is important, as being able to produce the next big industry disruptor will happen more readily within a culture that fosters everyday innovation. By creating this type of culture within your organisation, you will be producing a foundation for the delivery of game-changing and more disruptive innovation through the small everyday advances and innovative solutions to everyday problems that create an inventive business culture.

Through working with an everyday innovation mindset your employees are more likely to spot small issues before they spiral in to larger concerns, or industry trends you may be adhering to for too long, which your competitors are moving away from with tangible results.
With this mindset, your staff are more likely to broaden their personal horizons and working practices to a more inquisitive one that includes studying the commercial advances or stagnation of competing offerings and to engage more with your clients, so as to provide them with the highest levels of relevant product and customer experience.

The culture of innovation has to start within the leadership of your organisation and then instilled in every employee with a sense of common purpose and practice.  Crucially time, reward and resources must be given to individuals to allow them to develop and nurture their ideas, with a view to possible implementation, or at least further discussion.
There is no point in permitting a culture in which individuals or teams can recognise and discuss possible issues, and then not allow them the time to foster, nurture and implement them.
In fact, it could be the most counterproductive tactic you could take, and the fastest route to upsetting and demotivating your staff.

Empowering your workforce with this culture will not only lead to commercial success but enable you to create a challenging and enjoyable place of work, which will allow you to retain your best staff and be a draw to others. This may mean making your culture less risk averse, but if you always play safe, then your results will remain stagnant and innovation stifled.

Fostering a culture of everyday innovation where incremental advances are made steadily and at a manageable and digestible pace will deliver a commercially successful and healthy organisation, which others will want to emulate.

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

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