Top 5 Misconceptions CEOs have of CIOs

  • The top IT leader does not need to report to the CEO – As technology has advanced and more people use it everyday and the public has become more familiar with outsourcing, business leaders and stock exchanges have begun to take IT leaders for granted. Sometimes this manifests as the Senior IT leaders having lower ranking titles or reporting to other parts of the organization.
  • CIOs are expendable and easily replaced every 2 years (current average tenure is 18-24 months) – Building on the prior point, the tenure for CIOs has declined and when an event occurs such as a cost overrun or a security breach, often the CIO
  • CIO is a cost more than an asset – The CIO and his or her respective assets are often viewed as a cost to the business. Sometimes this is based on the perception that IT would simply be cheaper if it is all outsourced.
  • The CIO is not needed to define and implement a cloud or cloud migration strategy-This is a common oversimplification and short-sighted view that people have. Usually this results in long-term overspending or inadequate applications or services.

The IT function is tactical rather than strategic – Many organizations forget that it is well documented that the most successful, leading companies are those that most effectively use technology.  Those that value their technology leaders are also able to implement their business strategies by leveraging the latest technologies and innovations.

 

 

Innovation is not a Four-Letter Word

How many times have you heard technology leaders use the words “digital transformation” or “innovation”? Every day a new startup seems to pop up out of the ether to disrupt traditional processes, and our clients are constantly running to catch up.

Innovation is a great way to get ahead of those pesky startups, but when we take a look at our clients’ IT strategies, two big problems consistently get in the way of achieving their unicorn dreams:

  1. No Room for Innovation in the Plan
    If you want to achieve transformation, you must prepare to include it in your strategy. We often see:
  • No technologies identified
  • No resources to conceive or nor to identify or implement the innovation
  • No external confluences from which to draw innovation
  • No budget allocated to research or test solutions
  1. But We’ve Always Done It This Way!
    You know the old chestnut: if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten. Building something new and game-changing involves risk and uncertainty. Here are some ways NOT to achieve innovation in your upcoming plans:
  • Basing your strategy on what’s working now, or what’s been successful in the past — not on the future.
  • Failing to pre-vet your plans with other parts of the organization
  • Not capturing or tracking data to facilitate and determine the effectiveness of the strategy. When you’re going through the motions, “Strategy” becomes nothing more than an IT Spend Plan.

When developing your IT Strategy for 2020 and beyond, dip your toe in the water while keeping hold of some of the best practices of the past.  Don’t forget to:

  • Research technology market for innovations specific to your industry
  • Collaborate ahead of time with business units that will be impacted by the IT strategy to get ‘buy-in’ and some ‘requirements’ for where they would like to go as a business
  • Evaluate how effective your previous strategies were with respect to spend plan and use that to guide decisions for the next phase of strategy.

So, go forth and innovate! If you need ideas or best practices, we’re always available to brainstorm your next breakthrough.

Are you still doing IT Strategies the Old Way?

In our business, regularly we find Technology leaders say that want to innovate; however, when we examine their IT Strategy, we observe two very big hinderances to achieving innovation.  

  1. First – No Innovation in the Plan
  • No technologies identified
  • No resources to conceive or nor to identify or implement the innovation
  • No external confluences from which to draw innovation
  • No budget allocated to research or test solutions
  1. Second – Planning Done in the Same Old Way
  • Strategy based on current and past not on the future
  • Strategy does not involve pre-vetting with other parts of the organization
  • No tools used to capture, track and facilitate the effectiveness of the strategy
  • Strategy becomes no more than an IT Spend Plan

When developing and IT Strategy for 2020 and beyond, we recommend a incorporating innovative elements to your IT strategy while not forgetting about some of the best practices of the past.  These include:

  • Research technology market for innovations specific to your industry
  • Collaborate ahead of time with business units that will be impacted by the IT strategy to get ‘buy in’ and some ‘requirements’ for where they would like to go as a business
  • Evaluate how effective your previous strategies where with respect to spend plan and use that to guide decisions for the next phase of strategy.

CIOs: Don’t get Trapped in the Matrix

CIOs not only have to juggle day-to-day responsibilities and developing strategy, but also need to be on the lookout for IT troubles that could negatively affect their company.

Unexpected tech failures can easily end up as an article in The Wall Street Journal and result in your demise:

  • Security breach
  • Application outage
  • Disaster Recovery failure

It’s imperative for you to stay one step ahead of any potential trouble. A great way to ensure you’re receiving up to date, strategic advice is to enlist a trusted consultant (like Advancement Strategy!) to assist in developing plans and procedures to mitigate these risks.

Wishing for a trusted consultant is easier than actually receiving the help you need. You might run into negative responses due to:

  • Budget problems – no money earmarked for security proofing
  • The business-oriented decision makers don’t fully understand the risks involved with operating under lax security
  • Decision-makers do not want to spend money on security
  • Political tension between departments with a desire to use the money for other organizational priorities

It’s a challenging task, but you must avoid conceding to business priorities or keeping quiet regarding IT imperatives.  Evaluate how effective your previous strategies were with respect to spend plan and use that to guide decisions for the next phase of strategy.

Oh No! I was Just Given Responsibility for all of IT (and don’t have the background)

If you are a tech leader that has performed well and has the capacity to manage more within your organization, you may have been assigned the responsibility for the IT department—especially if the former IT leader has been removed. This can be a difficult position to be in, particularly if you do not have an IT background.

Rather than assume you can manage your way through it, get help!  Work with the other IT talent that is available and consider using outside help to augment your efforts or help you think through strategies.

In other cases, however, the business wants to cut costs and decides to “restructure” by removing the IT leader and simply reassigns responsibility for the IT function to you.

One reason this happens is that it’s assumed the IT department does not understand the business or is not aligned with the business strategy. If ythis sounds like you, it’s an opportunity to learn how IT efficiency and the appropriate Enterprise Architecture roadmap play an important part in business innovation. Empowering your IT team to be strategic and participate in the development of your business strategy is invaluable—utilize their expertise!

You’ve shifted your perception and recognize the value of your IT team. You’ve empowered your employees throughout the organization. Great work! There are a few additional practical actions to take that will ensure your success and maintain your stability and job security.

  • Create a plan to internally support the 10 major IT functions.
  • Learn intelligent ways to cut costs without disruption
  • Be humble, and ask for help or clarification to understand an issue. Pretending to know more than you do leads to poor decision making.
  • It might be tempting, but don’t defer to the large systems integrator and let them do the majority of the work. It’s important for you to know what’s going on in your department.

With this advice and on the job training, you’ll be navigating your organization like a pro in no time! If you need additional help – reach out. Advancement Strategy offers consulting and advisory services for CIOs and other executive-level decision-makers, especially involving Mergers and Acquisitions.

 

10 Signs You’re an IT Leader in Trouble

Are you imagining things, or is it possible your IT leadership position is on rocky footing? We’ve compiled a list of signs to watch for if you’re in trouble:

  1. Four cloud providers walk by your executive office to meet with the Business… and don’t acknowledge you.
  2. The CEO tells you she is going to create the IT strategy (over the weekend).
  3. You find out Business VPs have been running applications in the cloud for over a year without your knowledge.
  4. You (the IT leader) are invited to a business leadership meeting where the CEO presents the “new” IT strategy.
  5. The business decides to outsource the IT function without your input.
  6. The business hijacks the IT budget to fund radically experimental/skunkwork projects.
  7. You go to the CFO to inquire about next year’s IT budget; the CFO then asks “Haven’t you heard? The CEO plans to hire a consultant to develop new IT strategy for us!”
  8. A major, $10+ million IT solution needs to be vetted and you are not involved in the discussion to make the decision.
  9. The business has decided to rebrand you, “Sr. Director of IT” and you now report to the VP of HR.
  10. You find out you lost your CIO role in a press release of the incoming CIO.  (whose first order of business is to eliminate the “new” Sr. Director of IT (you).

Hopefully you never experience any of these situations—but if you do, contact us. We’ve been there and can help build a strategy to get you back on solid ground.