Without exception the role of the CIO has changed and along with that, so have the responsibilities. In a nut shell the job spec is brand new. This means some significant realignment will be needed with the rest of the business in terms of direction, engagement and objectives as you craft your next Information Technology strategic plan.
For the enterprise business level, the alignment and capabilities are very different than in the mid-market and it is this arena that is going to have to engage with the appropriate skills to get IT leadership aligned. The mid-market CIO is the focus here.
In my previous blog post – An Information Technology Strategic Plan Drives Business Success, I referred to a number of common questions being asked by the C-Suite today when contemplating IT planning. These questions deal with:
- Skills and Resources
- IT spend and budgeting
- Technology developments
- Vendor relationships
Most are not new to the CIO’s role but, they have shifted and are being pushed, pulled and stretched in all directions.
Why? Well for example i) Skills and resources – the insource vs. outsource options are more varied, ii) IT spend and budgeting – the capex vs. opex decisions are more complex and iii) Vendor relationships – the XaaS contracts are developing fast. Not to mention brand new aspects like BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) with mobile technology developments. These are just by way of example and not extensive.
Without realignment with the business the IT function will remain focused on:
- An infrastructure (data, storage, security, network admin, application admin) and
- An operational (resources, service, suppliers, assets, projects) approach to the technology component of the business.
So What’s The Solution?
A new approach that is tightly integrated with the rest of the business will focus on long term strategic planning. The IT leadership will understand why technology is necessary in each area of the business and who will use and benefit from it. Followed by decisions on what products and service will suffice these needs and how to get it done.
So, at a high level it is necessary to do 3 things before starting the IT strategic plan:
- Overall business strategy – this business wide plan is the “gold standard” to which all other sub-strategies must adhere to. If the business strategy is not going there, no one should be going there.
- IT current state – couple the current state of IT affairs with the direction the business is headed, support this with real shop floor information. This is not a technical discussion and is business wide.
- Establish IT stakeholders – in as much as sales and marketing, customer support/services and sales are strategic and operational stakeholders so should the relevant stakeholders be vested in the IT strategy.
These 3 points will ensure that the IT leadership can move onto the long term IT strategic plan with the knowledge that the overall guidelines and objectives are correct … that the current state is taken into consideration from the rest of the business point of view… that the stakeholder team is vested in the success of the IT plan and will be part of the planning process. Think of this input as the rules of engagement and who’s on your team.
This direction highlights some of the key changes in the current CIO job spec change away from the historical primary focus on technological infrastructure and operations towards a more integrated approach focused on strategic objectives, stakeholder input and long term strategic planning and delivery.
Information derived from the 3 points above will clearly position the company’s competitiveness (products and services), customer satisfaction and overall industry position/leadership squarely in the view of the CIO. His challenge is to establish an IT strategic plan and framework that will effectively influence business performance and success.
As always, I welcome your comments or questions below.