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CIOs, Flex Those Muscles

It’s time to step up, take the reins and be a disruptive force—or risk becoming irrelevant.

CIOs have long wanted to play a more strategic or transformative role within the enterprise, and that opportunity has finally come. In fact, I’d go so far as to say we’ve reached the highly anticipated tipping point between CIOs’ merely aligning with business to actually becoming strategic, disruptive forces driving change and growth for the business. After years of belt-tightening, CIOs are investing in tomorrow.

The ongoing convergence of big data, mobility and the cloud is putting businesses at a true crossroads — and they need a leader. Unfortunately, very few in the executive suite actually understand what that convergence means, let alone its implications on an enterprise scale. For those CIOs willing to embrace the challenge, however, it’s a fantastic opportunity to serve as a champion.

As the results from a recent CIO Survey demonstrate, there are several steps CIOs can take today:

• Begin shifting resources from operations to innovation, with a renewed focus on reducing overhead
• Start strategically investing in future technologies without neglecting present needs
• Recognize that an innovation-centric culture is as important as the technology
• Prioritize fostering a solid relationship with line-of-business counterparts
• Seek strategic partners in areas where the organization can best benefit from assistance and expertise

Why is it important for CIOs to act now? Simply put, IT and business functions are merging at an unprecedented rate. In some cases, IT is the reason the business exists at all. For instance, Uber is a true global disruptor of the taxi/car service industry without owning a single car. Instead of managing fleets of vehicles, Uber is leveraging technology to rethink and redistribute traditional jobs into tasks assigned to willing participants on an as-needed basis.

Numerous similar opportunities exist in which a parallel approach can result in complete transformation across a broad spectrum of industries. If CIOs fail to capitalize on this opportunity, there will undoubtedly be fallout, and they will eventually become irrelevant. The only question is how long it will take for the consequences to manifest. In consumer- or retail-oriented sectors, the window is quite narrow, with consumers constantly clamoring for the latest and greatest. In manufacturing, the timeline to obsolescence depends heavily on how progressive the organization is in embracing intelligent automation (IoT). In the financial sector, by contrast, most CIOs are already at the forefront, as regulatory concerns serve as powerful drivers.

Bottom line: CIOs need to decide whether they will lead or fade into the background. Are you going to settle for irrelevant?

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