The face of today’s CIO has changed dramatically. Once upon a time the CIO was only concerned about the business of IT, from the development process and implementation to the operation of the IT world. What these CIO’s have learned, and some the hard way, is that isn’t enough. This narrow view has gotten IT in a load of trouble over the years.
This is manifested in many ways, the first being how consumers leverage our products and services. In 2009, the Better Business Bureau in Vancouver Canada listed Computers and Technology as the number one complaint across all areas.
As shown in the report, computer software and services are worse than those pesky car salesmen hunting you down on their lots. We not only see this from our consumer base but also from within our four walls. It is easier to not look at but there are systemic issues with the business of IT as it is today. As an example, the Standish Group released a report stating that 50% of all technology Initiatives are a waste of money. So what is the CIO to do? Stick with the status quo or make a change? It’s time for a change in how IT is operated.
It used to be that aligning IT with the Business was strategically in vogue for CIOs. And it still is. However there is a fundamental shift elevating the modern role of the CIO to that of not only doing the business of IT, but also transforming and innovating along the way. With 54% of mid-market CIOs viewing IT as the critical enabler of business and organisational vision, CEOs are now looking to the CIO as the trusted enabler, the mainspring for IT solutions that meet the demands of the business, in real-time.
Figure 1: Pressures of the Modern CIO
The traditional lens of the CIO focuses on providing technology platforms that “allow” the business to function while aligning IT priorities with business priorities, reducing solution cost and ensuring proper controls are in place. This is the CIO as Optimiser, immersed and concerned with driving internal IT process, efficiency and responsiveness, keeping pace with the needs of the business.
Today however brings a new set of business pressures that stares the CIO as Optimiser squarely in the eye and asks the question: “How are you helping the business adapt and cope with accelerating changes in market conditions and technology disruptors?” The answer lies within the new-fashioned role of the Transformative CIO.
The 2010 State of the CIO Survey provided by CIO magazine highlighted that nearly nine out of 10 (89 percent) anticipate assuming some additional area of non-IT leadership responsibility three to five years from now, compared to 61 percent who are currently responsible in a leadership capacity for one or more non-IT areas of the business. Security (55 percent), strategy (49 percent), and risk management (41 percent) are most frequently cited by IT leaders as areas they expect to assume leadership responsibility for in the longer term.
The Transformative CIO will help in this fashion by striving to partner with the Business, truly advancing the business relationship beyond pacing alignment. He becomes an expert of industry solutions; understanding, rationalising and recommending strategies that meet the ever-changing demands of the Business. And as council and advisor to the CEO, he empathises and takes action on his concerns.
Figure 2: Understanding the Maturity of the Modern CIO
As CIOs gain a foothold with the Business thought process, maturing strategic business value through the IT lens means continuing to find new ways of delivering value, service and cost containment. Enter the CIO as Innovator. He sees that in order to support business growth, he must be out ahead of the game solving real strategic business problems through innovation.
The new CIO also provides clarity of IT utility by understanding how competition can affect the company and by making strategic big bets on emerging technologies that are directly in line with business goals. He truly believes in a business first organisation. In fact, fully 70% of the CIOs surveyed in the 2010 State of the CIO report said long-term strategic thinking and planning will be most critically needed in the coming year.
CIOs are starting to realize this in a substantial way. CIOs are actively moving their focus to not only the transformational areas in partnership with the business but also in an innovative role as well. The 2010 State of the CIO Survey also includes an interesting point that 54% of CIO’s will focus their time and energy on driving business innovation. That is a substantial amount of time for any role, especially the CIO. This will completely change the tone of the IT organisation.
The modern CIO is one who not only understands the mechanical aspects of IT but also harmonizes the elements of IT culture, business maturity and industry innovation. And by having a seat at the business decision table, embracing enterprise architecture and running IT as a utility, he or she can incubate these elements in to a set of enablers the business can count on.
The pressure to deliver beyond the traditional role of the CIO is evolving in to a key asset for CEOs. A blend of CIO as Optimiser, Transformer and Innovator provides a powerful profile mix that amidst the constant of change will emerge a stronger and more service-focused business partnership with IT. After all, without IT there is no Business. Or is it the other way around?
Authored by and reproduced with full permission of Mike Walker, Enterprise Strategy and Architecture Chief IP Architect at Microsoft
To get some idea of what lies in store, Outsource reached out to over 40 key thought leaders, tasking them to give their bite-sized predictions, prognostications and prophecies on what will be making headlines in outsourcing in 2012. Representing buyer, provider, advisory and analyst communities, and featuring commentary from the C-suite to the shop floor (via input from the Outsource Editorial Board and our international array of online columnists, of course), our 2012 Preview gives a huge range of perspectives from right across the space. So, for a peek at what some of the outsourcing community’s leading lights expect from the year ahead, pull back the veil and read on. One thing’s for sure: whatever lies ahead, we’re in for an interesting ride…
See my contribution here and let me know what yours would be?
We are all looking for the easiest and most cost effective solutions in everything that we do but often shy away from certain tasks due to their intricacies and capacity in being overcharged by vendors or providers.
As the web and enterprise have evolved and moved upwards through Web 1.0 and on to Web 2.0 the tools and information sources have improved but the need to develop all of the features necessary to e.g. build a website have remained quite basic.
I have always delighted in tools and services that not only provide quality functionality but also ones that save me time and effort in having to do exactly so.
My absolute favourites are ones that not only do the above but continue to deliver new releases that each time improve upon their initial offerings with quality support (i.e. More than just a teenager in Nebraska available outside school hours to offer it)
This was all brought home to me recently when I looked hypothetically at how easy it would be to create a new website and more specifically one which could be underpinned with ecommerce functionality.
Firstly, part one of my objective was to look at the website creation side of things.
I was pleasantly surprised by what I found and in how straightforward it would be to achieve this thanks to the quality of the offerings in the market place and through recommendations passed on to me by friends.
Not only that, they would look good too with minimal effort.
If you want a straightforward flash site, stop everything you are doing and head over to Wix and start playing around with what you want.
You can have something very impressive up and running pretty quickly that people will think you have had done professionally.
No coding necessary, search engine friendly, drag and drop design and above all its FREE to get going (you can upgrade to their Premium plans should you wish to bolt more on or remove ads etc.).
It really is as simple as that.
Moving on to the second task and the locating of a robust and easy to develop e-commerce platform.
Having previously created successful e-commerce sites for large multinationals, I appreciated the complexities and nuances to look out for but I was blown away by the quality and richness of the Magento E-commerce Platform offering.
These guys have really nailed the ‘out of a box’ e-commerce platform that has eluded us for years and have included everything that you could ever possibly need and wish for when trying to build an e-commerce platform.
The sheer breadth of features means you have to get your head together and really plan out your site beforehand. Study both your target markets and plan for the features that they will expect to see as well as the logistics of not only managing your inventories but also in managing the housework of the site itself.
Unless you are a developer or have access to the relevant development skills, you will obviously have to work with one of their solution partners to get your site to the level that you want to deliver to your clients.
I can certainly guarantee the cost of doing this is much cheaper and more beneficial than if you had to create a team of developers to create something from scratch, so it’s a no brainer to get a head start with a package like this.
Not only that but you will also benefit from all of the new features and functionality their new releases bring to market.
Their hosting and support model is also a nice comfort blanket and will keep you from waking up at night through the fear of losing your own developers and their specific skill sets and knowledge of your site/code.
The key here as always with development projects is to not over customise your offering so you can still benefit from the new product release and functionality delivered in the Magento software updates (over customisation is the most elementary and often repeated error in development projects).
The opening up of the Magento Platform through Magento Connect delivers a rich seam of extensions that are more often tailored by sector or specific niche but make no mistake they all help bolster an already feature laden platform.
I believe that opening up to a marketplace or 3rd party add on approach is crucial to the growth and richness of any platform – just ask the guys at Salesforce.com!
Footnote to Magento is that whilst I was writing this, it has been declared that they are being acquired by EBay – good for them and testament to the quality of their product!
So is this the evolution of a brief stopover at Web/Enterprise 2.4 on the march towards the fabled Web 3.0 with its primary drivers of personalisation and the Semantic Web?
Personally, I think this is a point version update that shows evidence of technology providing real and tangible progress that empowers both the enterprise and the individual.
At present, Social Media appears to be the magic carpet carrying society and enterprises in to a new technical era where it not only drives commercialisation but has also overtaken the older, rock solid medium of television amongst younger generations. However, this alone cannot sustain all necessary technology.
The benefit of all this to Enterprise is clear in that most software development will become easier and cheaper to produce.
With the evolutionary improvement of ‘out of the box’ solutions the size of development teams will naturally reduce as the volume of hand crafted code and subsequent support is reduced when compared with older methods of developing such products.
With the ultimate aim of delivering better products for your customers and in building shareholder value, we must embrace this advance in technology and developers must also move forward in learning new skills and taking that step forward hand in hand with the enterprise rather than rebelling against it.
The conclusion of all this is that tools and technology really have moved on and now offer incredible power and functionality to the individual that was only previously available through professional service companies.
Gone is the need to carve everything from the single block of marble by yourself as technology has yet again moved on and taken another long stride towards the nirvana of absolute functionality.
First day on the job as the new CIO you notice 3 envelopes in the top drawer of your desk. The first envelope says “Open Me.” Inside is a note from your predecessor that provides insight on the organisation, issues, culture, concerns, etc. You read it, throw it in the trash and go about your business as the new CIO. A year later you’re not happy with the progress of the organisation and you remember the second envelope that says “Open me if you are not happy with the way things are going.” You open it and a single word is written on a piece of paper; “Reorganise.” You take the advice this time and spend several months forming teams and reorganising hoping to get results linked to the business. You call it “IT Transformation.” Another year goes by and things are marginally improving but you are still unhappy with the results. The business is unhappy with IT and the CEO is unhappy due to growing costs. You notice the third envelope that says “Open me if things still are not the way you would like them.” You open it and it says; “Create 3 envelopes.”
The moral of the story is to not get hung up on big transformation projects and reorganisation to create yet another organisation that is not functional. Make changes in small, manageable pieces and make sure any change is linked to improving the business of IT or the business of your company.