Technology does not follow business decisions anymore but leads or accompanies business decisions. Also, with technology affecting all planes of a business, it is increasingly difficult for a central tech person to take all decisions. These are changes that elicit a definite response from the IT leader.
The theme for this year’s annual CIO&Leader was focused on the need for CIOs to reinvent—the way business is done, leveraging technology, but also, themselves.
Today, businesses of all types and sizes are looking to integrate technology into their products, processes and strategies. That requires ‘tech’ decisions be made at every step.
It has created two distinct new requirements, hitherto absent.
One, it requires that technology decisions are taken much faster—almost on the go.
Two, it requires that technology decisions do not follow business decisions, but rather lead or accompany business decisions. It requires that whoever takes that (technology) decision is not just good at technology and/or business but is also well aware of emerging technologies landscape and their potential to create value for the organization’s business.
In addition to the new requirements, the question—how competent a technology person is to take decisions which are essentially to do with business—is also becoming important.
All these new realities elicit a response from the IT leader. That response is about skills, attitudes and restraints.
For a tech decision to be taken significantly faster, some of it has to be taken by functional executives; some, which cannot be taken by them, have still to be taken by IT but much faster. It means not just ability to take faster decisions (by CIO and his team), but also appreciating the need to let go of some decisions.
For proactively coming to business with technologies that can significantly impact a business, the IT leader does not need to know every nuances of a particular technology, but he/she needs to be well-updated on what is happening out there. I have often written about this aspect, calling it an outside-in approach. In contrast, the problem-solving CIOs of today, no matter how good they are at technology and in understanding business, essentially work in an inside-out model.
Finally, no matter how much you argue, a technology person is not a superman and can never understand fully the nuances of each and every business decision. That means today’s digital age requires some IT decisions be taken by business. The role of the CIO is not just to appreciate that but to ensure that there is a conducive environment for it—in terms of ensuring governance, compliance and a little helping hand, when required. More than any skill, it requires extreme maturity.