Book Review – Be The Business: CIOs in the New Era of IT

Be The Business: CIOs in the New Era of ITAfter reviewing Martha Heller’s excellent last book, The CIO Paradox: Battling the Contradictions of IT Leadership back in 2012 I was delighted to be asked to review her new book entitled, Be The Business: CIOs in the New Era of IT.
The book rightly covers how technology now permeates nearly everything a company does and how regardless of industry, IT has moved much closer to (if not directly in) the revenue stream of the organisation.

Martha has an amazing network of CIOs and an innate knowledge of how their roles have evolved in the past 5 years including how many leading CIOs are dramatically re-conceptualising the role of IT and creating new IT operating models as a result. In keeping with this new era of IT, these new operating models distribute IT investment decisions, innovation, delivery, and adoption throughout the enterprise, rather than keeping those activities solely within the IT function.
Ultimately, these new IT operating models position the IT function as an internal professional services organisation that provides the company with a wide array of services including management consulting, customer experience, innovation, end-user productivity, and security.

I have long heralded the cause for CIOs to be more progressive and deeply involved in operating and driving the business forward; Actually being a part of the core team which leads and drives the business forward rather than being content just running the technology silo and ‘keeping the lights on.’ I have referred to this more commercially focused and digitally savvy role as CIO 2.0 with more focus on supporting the business, reinvigorating its use of technology, enhancing the customer experience, driving the digital initiative and enabling it to deliver its strategic growth objectives.

This book is full of practical and thought-provoking narrative on how CIOs can progress to the ‘2.0’ role in this new era of IT and each chapter resonates with illuminating quotes from leading CIOs who have been through this transition and which lend real world insight to Martha’s text.

Chapters such as Step in to the Digital Void, Turn IT Consumers in Co-investors and Becoming the ‘What’ CIO invigorate the mind and really help you shape your thoughts in to meaningful and effective strategic goals that you can carry forth in to your own organisations. This book is by no means an instructional guide on how to elevate yourself as a technology leader but gently steers you in to the key areas you need to consider, investigate and embrace to succeed in this new era of IT.

When digesting this book on first reading, it really resonated with me on how well it flowed and knitted together the journey to becoming a CIO 2.0.
On second reading, I did so with a highlighter pen and marked out large areas of text in each chapter from which I wanted to take time to further drill down in to.

I highly recommend this book and feel confident in saying that it will be a well-thumbed reference point for me that will stimulate my thoughts and interchanges with others for a long time to come.

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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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