In the "new normal" it is the CIO's job to think disruptively

The new economic order requires CIOs to think not just about how to use technology to cut costs but how to reshape business models.

The CIO has supposedly been part of strategic boardroom discussions for most of the past decade, but the "new normal" is forcing companies to think differently about the role of information technology. I really don't need a source for this statement, because I've encountered this attitude anecdotally in my work for companies like Cisco Systems, but there is a thoughtful new McKinsey Quarterly article out that gets pretty prescriptive about the skills the "new" CIO needs.

Here are three top-level observations that make the CIO's job substantially different than in the past.

  1. They must understand business, not just technology.
  2. They should focus less on cutting the cost of IT procurement and more about cutting costs across the entire company by using technology.
  3. They must think long term about how emerging technologies can reshape their company's organizational structure and business model.

Of course, all this implies that the CIO must be a master relationship builder and negotiator to get buy-in for radical new ideas.

Interested in applying?

The McKinsey article includes some compelling statistics about reporting responsibility: In North America, approximately 56 percent of all CIOs or IT leaders report to their CEO. This compares with 31 percent in Europe and 48 percent in the rest of the world. Hmmm, why not 100 percent? This would support the strategic technology agendas that many enterprises now purport to hold.

McKinsey recommends that companies adopt "joint governance" models that bring technology leaders into strategic discussions way earlier in the process. For example, there should be IT representatives in customer service discussions even when they are at the philosophical stage. That way, the solutions have an even greater chance of being successful.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com