CIO strategy: Become a transformational chief information officer

Adapting to change is a key survival skill for every modern CIO. Two prominent CIO leaders share their advice on how to thrive in today's rapidly-changing digital environment.
Written by Michael Krigsman, Contributor

In recent years, the CIO role has evolved from a legacy position focused on infrastructure to a business role where growth and innovation are table stakes. This shift represents an evolution from the traditional to transformational CIO.

For your health, well-being, and edification, I assembled a table that summarizes these changes:

Transformational CIO

Prepared by Michael Krigsman

To gain a clearer understanding of how IT leaders can become transformational, I spoke with two respected CIOs. Ben Haines is currently the CIO of Verizon Media and previously was the CIO of companies such as Red Bull, Pabst, and Box. Tim Crawford has held senior IT positions in organizations such as Konica and Stanford University. He is currently a prominent advisor to Chief Information Officers.

I asked Ben and Tim how CIOs can evolve their work to become transformational. Here are a few of their comments (edited for length and readability):

Tim Crawford: The transformational CIO is a business leader first that has responsibility for technology. They're aligned closely with the CEO, rest of the C suite, and objectives of the board of directors. But they're looking at ways to bring technology to the forefront. Instead of tech for tech's sake, it's business first

Every member of the C suite needs to understand the nature of their business; they need to understand their customers. They need to understand how they make money, how they spend money, and how operations of the organization work. It starts with that business context but eventually evolves into technology.

Ben Haines: You see some businesses changing their entire business model because of digital. But not every industry can do that or need to do that. In the CPG space, Red Bull and Pabst are still shipping a can of beer or can of Red Bull. But interactions with consumers and going more directly to consumers, it's all digital. We can be at the forefront of driving that and enabling that.

I want to change that conversation a little bit because it's a business problem and it's an IT problem. You've got to frame it like that when you're talking with the executive team.

The video embedded above is a composite from a CxOTalk live conversation with Tim and a separate conversation with Ben.

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