Leading analyst firms are unanimous in their pronouncements on the transformational and disruptive power of information technology, even if their terminology and metaphors differ. IDC talks of a ‘third platform’ comprising mobile, social, cloud and big data. Gartner calls these its ‘Nexus of Forces’. Forrester simply warns of ‘digital disruption’.
Whatever terminology you prefer the end result is the same: how an enterprise exploits information technology will determine its success and it needs to have a corporate structure that enables board and senior management to be fully cognisant of the potential of IT and to incorporate that potential into strategic planning. Increasing this means having the CIO sit on the board.
But the board level CIO is a very different beast from the traditional CIO. One US company director “likens the CIO role to that of an army general, a leader of corporate Navy Seals, a rock star and an important collaborator.”
That’s a tough call and it came from Jennifer Banner, a director at Branch Banking & Trust Corp; director at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta's Nashville branch; and CEO at Schaad Companies in Knoxville, Tennessee, quoted on the SearchCIO web site, in its report of a CIO Symposium organised by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
It explained what this multitalented CIO must do: “Her perfect CIO is not only adept at management, capable of building teams and guiding the IT department, but is also good at governance, at translating tech speak for the board and sounding the alarm about digital competitors when necessary.”
That’s a tall order, but very necessary, it seems. The report also quoted a survey of board members of large organisations undertaken by MIT’s Sloan School of Management. They estimated that 32 percent of their companies revenues would be under threat from digital disruption over the next five years.
The report did not elaborate on how that single figure had been arrived at, but Forrester is quite certain what the extreme consequences of digital disruption will be: organisational death.
According to Forrester, more organisations in Asia Pacific are putting digital transformation on their agendas, but very few understand what it really means. Forrester says that for CIOs to help their organisations succeed this disruptive digital transformation they “must have an in-depth understanding of customer journeys and how align them to the firm’s business technology strategy.”
According to Axelera’s Enterprise Sales & Marketing Manager, Jorge Villalpando, effective disruptive-era CIOs and CMOs ask questions with a purpose. “CIOs and CMOs are increasingly savvy about the desired outcomes for their organisation. Efficient ones ask questions and link the response to a business challenge,” he said. “This is how they can translate their knowledge and call on technology to gain a clear and competitive advantage. This can make a difference for any organisation, and this drive for change is now coming from the ‘server room’.”
In a report aimed at business leaders, The Digital Business Imperative, Forrester says: “Your business needs a reset. You need to look at digital holistically. You need to transform your business by applying digital thinking across everything you do — how you win, serve, and retain customers; how you operate your internal processes; and how you source business services. In short, you must become a digital business.”
And today’s CIOs? Those that can muster the required skills will be in very high demand and highly successful. Those that can’t…
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