Why CIOs should act more like venture capitalists

If CIOs are feeling under pressure from a barrage of new technologies from mobile through big data then it’s time to think like a venture capitalist and look for opportunities says the consultants Deloittes.
Written by Colin Barker, Contributor

There must come times when the modern CIO feels like a medieval bear being tormented in a pit – everybody is demanding a piece of him.

As the consultants Deloitte put it: "More and more CIOs, faced with disruptive forces such as crowdsourcing, mobile-only, big data, and cyber security are shifting from a world of known problems into one filled with unknowns."

The issue is simply that CIOs are realising that their current tools for managing risk and making the most of their assets may well not be adequate for these changing conditions. Deloitte's advice for dealing with this is to "borrow from the playbook of today’s leading venture capitalists" to get the best advice on reshaping how they run the business IT.

The CIO can do this because a key part of the CIO's role is to ask the key questions, such as:

  • What initiatives are mission-critical for the business?
  • What is the confidence level around on-time, on-budget delivery?
  • How deliberately are business case results tracked?
  • Which hardware and software assets are identified for growth? For sunsetting? For active retirement?
  • How 'heavy' a balance sheet do you want to carry?

These are all crucial questions for any business and as the Deloitte argues  the CIO is the best person to be in a position to answer them. But to answer them the CIO needs to be doing the right things, the report points out, and especially those that are in his or her area of expertise.

The bottom line, as the report puts it, is that while "at first blush the link between CIOs and VCs may seem a bit of a stretch", underneath there is some good ground in common. As the report says: "CIOs provide critical services that the business simply can't do without and where the risk of getting it wrong could be catastrophic."

The similarity between the roles of the CIO and VC is right there, the report points out: "Venture capitalists operate in a high-stakes environment where extraordinary value creation and inevitable losses can coexist inside a portfolio of calculated investments." The report also points out: "So do CIOs."

There is much more of this in the report which has plenty of advice for the ambitious CIO who wants to take a closer look at the world of the VC and you will find the report, which is free, here.

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