Over the last decade, a number of changes to the business landscape have steadily worked to take IT out of the CIO’s control. Consider:
- Managed services has reduced—or eliminated—the need for many companies to own and operate their own data centers.
- Cloud computing has taken core application development and maintenance functions and outsourced them to a host of third parties.
- Bring your own device (BYOD) has democratized the selection, procurement and upkeep of corporate PCs and mobile devices.
- A recent string of high-profile data breaches has promoted IT security—previously an item on the CIO’s staff meeting agenda—to a board-level issue, subject to a whole new degree of scrutiny and oversight.
It’s clear that the skills that got many of us into the CIO role years ago are not the same set of skills that will keep us in the role in the years to come.
TAKE THE “ADAPT OR DIE” QUIZ
So with that in mind, how well are IT leaders adapting to the changing needs of the CIO position? I recently had an opportunity to speak to a panel of fellow CIOs, and I reviewed the following quiz with them. Feel free to take it and see how you fare.
But there’s one important catch, however: you can’t assess yourself. You have to answer the questions the way your business colleagues would rate you.
Some of this response is baked into the business you’re in, of course. But if most of your value comes from infrastructure and maintenance, it might be time to update your definition of success.
In today’s business world, there are no IT problems; there are only business problems.
The more you incorporate the metrics of your business into your own planning and dashboards, the more you’ll align your team with the rest of the organization.
Following up on question #2, it’s impossible to know what the business metrics are unless you actually ask the business leaders themselves.
Since the best strategies and organizations are able to adapt to market forces quickly, chances are the business priorities and goals you discussed last quarter have probably been updated since then.
As CIO, you should be an integral part of C-suite meetings. And, if you don’t already have them in place, get a regular cadence of 1:1 meetings established with your business colleagues.
While setting an example for your team is essential, the actual execution will happen among your managers and individual contributors.
So if the business leaders don’t feel like their teams are collaborating with yours on a regular basis, it’s a warning sign your team might be too insulated to be effective.
These last three questions are more of a reflection on you as an individual rather than your team as a whole.
One way to determine how aligned you are with the overall needs of the business is to consider how frequently you volunteer to solve business problems by leading new companywide initiatives.
These initiatives may have minimal association with IT, or none at all. The important part is that you’re proposing them and offering to lead them.
While question #5 may be indicative of your involvement in the broader business, question #6 should give you a sense of where you stand among your peers in the C-suite when it comes to who the CEO trusts to get the high-value work done.
If your CEO frequently looks to you to launch and execute new initiatives, congratulations. If you’re passed over frequently—especially for non-IT related initiatives—you likely have some work ahead of you.
Think back to your last executive leadership or board meeting: did you only perk up when it was your turn on the agenda, or were you engaged throughout? Were you actively involved in the discussions, or just responsive to technical questions?
In years’ past, many CIOs were content to sit in the back of the room and speak only when spoken to. Today, technology is integrated into every facet of business, so it’s up to us as CIOs to be knowledgeable about every aspect of the business as well.
Otherwise, you may be missing a golden opportunity to deliver value.
THE FINAL TALLY
So how did you do?
If your average score was a three or better: chances are you are keeping pace with the rapid evolution of the CIO role.
If you had a few ones and twos mixed in: you know what you need to work on.
If you averaged a one or a two across all seven questions: that’s a pretty strong call to action. It’s time to adapt quickly or … you know the rest.