Most analyst firms release a yearly review of CIO priorities; you've seen them, long lists of application areas and product categories. The analysts who compile these lists generally want to help vendors target the most lucrative markets and encourage CIOs to hire the author. Yeah, self-serving lists are alive and well.
Given the usual tedium of these CIO priority lists, I was pleased when Bob Evans, senior vice-president of communications for Oracle Corp, alerted me to his take on this well-worn topic. Instead of a boring list showing endless software and hardware spending statistics, Bob developed a meaningful collection of strategy areas for innovative CIOs.
Here is Bob Evan's list of "Top 10 Strategic CIO Issues For 2013:"
- Simplify IT and Transform Your Spending: Kick the 80/20 Budget Habit
- Lead the Social Revolution: Drive the Social-Enabled Enterprise
- Unleash Your Company’s Intelligence: Create the Enterprise-Wide Opportunity Chain
- Embrace the Engagement Economy: Merge the Back Office and the Front Office into the Customer Office
- Future-Proof Your IT Architecture
- Upgrade “Cloud Strategy” to “Business Transformation Enabled by the Cloud”
- Transform Big Data into Big Insights, Big Vision, and Big Opportunities
- Preside over a Shotgun Wedding: Systems of Record Marry Systems of Engagement
- Lead with Speed: CIO as Chief Acceleration Officer
- Bend the Value Curve: More Innovation, Less Integration
Let me be clear: Bob's list is great. Instead of a litany telling people how to spend money, this collection describes the goals and issues that help a CIO drive value in today's world. For many CIO's, these points represent the future path forward; when I talk with innovative CIOs -- the best and most forward thinking -- it's obvious the issues are exciting because they hold the key to really helping drive benefit to the company.
Anyone reading this blog regularly knows I prescribe the following advice to CIOs who want to deliver innovative results to their organization:
- Innovation starts with capability. Begin by delivering basic IT projects and services with excellence. If your projects are always late and users hate IT, then you need to clean house. You can only achieve the credibility needed to drive innovation if your team has the capability to execute core IT mandates with skill and confidence.
- IT value requires listening. Always remember that IT provides a service to the business. As with any service, success depends on communication, understanding, and willingness to adapt to changing business conditions. Many (and I mean MANY) CIOs and IT departments do not understand the nuances of listening and talking to line of business counterparts. To become a strategic, you must learn to listen well; trust me, that's a fact.
- Innovation means transformation. Innovation and business value always require change; it requires envisioning a tomorrow in which we do things differently and better than today. As CIO, your most important job is helping lead the business in change and innovation. If the business isn't ready, which may be likely, then your challenge becomes helping preparing the ground for future change.
If you read the strategic priorities list described above, you'll see it is consistent with the perspective of CIO value and transformation I often present in this blog. Adopting a strategic perspective takes time and effort; do not expect overnight results. However, with the right intention you can and will develop the skills to be a great CIO and leader.