Six CIO rethinks

Important things for CIOs to pay attention to in 2016

fork road
Credit: Ian Paterson

2016 brings many CIOs to a fork in the road when they must make major decisions regarding the direction they will take to evolve their IT organization to better address business demands. The decisions are all about speed, and quickly responding to the business and its requirements is paramount. Here are six important areas where you’ll need to rethink how to evolve your team and accommodate the realities of the new business world.

1. Rethink IT governance

In today’s business world, there are far more business stakeholders in the enterprise who are making technology decisions and initiating IT-driven transformation. This requires that you, as CIO, rethink IT governance. Historical CFO capital appropriations mechanisms to gate and control technology spend will no longer work, so you need to evolve new structures to influence, collaborate, and drive impact across the organization.

2. Rethink metrics

In your effort to drive influence and change in the organization, you need to rethink the metrics that you use to report back to the organization on IT’s promises. First, define the business outcome goal from the end user or customer perspective. Then translate it into issues and organizational implications that your IT teams will align against. It’s important that you segment the metrics at three levels:

  • C-level vision – Develop metrics that specify the benefits and what needs to change in the status quo to accommodate the benefits.
  • Direct reports responsible for executing on the vision – Develop metrics that focus on the implications for the delivery organization.
  • Technical talent – Develop metrics that focus on the tools, talent and process changes that the goal affects and what the architects need to understand as they develop the solution for the goal.

By rethinking metrics and designating them for each of the three levels, you position the goal in light of those who will experience the change, which will help remove obstacles to change.

3. Rethink decision rights

As you lead the change in your organization and disrupt the status quo, you’ll need to rethink decision rights and how they need to be adjusted for the new vision. Invest in change leadership; educate the teams on the vision and the details of where you’re going. The business power structures and their interactions with IT will need to adjust. For instance, you’ll need to reconceive the role of procurement/purchasing and other governance activities to accommodate the disruptive construct of continuous releases and becoming responsive to business demands.

4. Rethink security

Security is a huge issue keeping everyone up at night. The fastest way to put your company at risk is a massive security breach. You’ll need to develop a defensive depth against the incredibly well-funded, huge army of black hats; the black hat resources have shifted from the gifted amateur to the extremely well-funded government and organized crime sponsors, and the consequences are moving up to things that can potentially destroy a company. In 2016, you’ll need to completely rethink your defenses and move to a defensive depth with a different order of magnitude in terms of budget to fund it as well as implications in how you deploy the ecosystem you use.

5. Rethink talent

Businesses in 2016 will evolve their talent models in terms of how and where they look for technology talent inside the organization or in using third parties, as well as how to orchestrate third-party talent in combination with in-house talent. As CIO, you’ll need to evolve the thinking from cheap talent to productive talent. The days of going after labor in low-cost locations is no longer sufficient. Businesses now need to build persistent teams with deeper industry knowledge, company knowledge and functional knowledge instead of leveraging offshore labor that churns every three to six months.

6. Rethink digital concepts

Think about the digital marketing and Internet of Things business concepts your organization pioneered in 2014 and 2015. In 2016, you’ll need to rethink those concepts and determine how to industrialize them and drive productivity and business gains. This requires moving beyond the digital marketing and Internet of Things experiments and pilots to establishing programs that create enterprise value and meaningful business advantage.

 As Hall of Fame baseball player Yogi Berra advised, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

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