Andrew Wilson, CIO of Accenture, is a Digital CIO. “Digital CIOs have a different skillset than traditional CIOs,” he says. “They have to modify their behavior in a way that makes sense to their stakeholders, many of whom are millennials.”
The Digital CIO, says Wilson, is an orchestrator of a whole new supply chain of technology providers, a consultant who brings game-changing ideas to the business, and a new kind of communicator. The Digital CIO is a role model for other executives still caught in legacy thinking, legacy operations, and legacy approaches to communication. “CIOs can no longer sit there with an IT budget waiting for the business to make demands,” Wilson says. “Technology is pervasive and always changing; the digital CIO should be the first to say, ‘technology can do this in the business.’ That is different from the past.”
So, how does the CIO of a global company of over 300,000 employees, demonstrate digital leadership?
Digital Permeates Everything
For Andrew Wilson, who spent more than 20 years running an Accenture P&L before he became CIO in 2013, digital leadership permeates everything he does from organizational design to SDLC to how he communicates to his organization.
When we chatted a few weeks ago, Wilson mentioned a particularly compelling communication vehicle he is using at Accenture, so I asked him to tell me more.
“As CIO for a company that employs a large number of post-millennials, I need to cultivate a brand that makes sense to that generation,” Wilson says. “So, I do not write emails; I produce TV shows.”
CIO TV Show
CIO Live is a TV show that Wilson broadcasts quarterly to Accenture’s entire IT organization. It has multiple cameras, a set, and a studio audience. “Imagine The Tonight Show with guests from the business and our senior leadership team,” says Wilson. “I open with a monologue that reflects on news headlines, some of the themes I am hearing from the Accenture marketing team, our critical measures of success, and key messages from our executive leadership. We are launching an upgraded CRM solution and are about to re-launch our website, so I talk about all of that.”
Wilson might have a guest from the marketing team demo the new website or ask his DevOps lead to stand up, “weatherman style” to walk through a new dashboard. “The PowerPoint is dead,” says Wilson. “Digital CIOs need to communicate with digital products.”
Accenture is a sprawling global organization where Wilson’s guests may not be able to make it to the studio. “The head of our digital practice was good enough to join me even though he was on vacation when I wanted him to be on the show,” says Wilson. “So he participated on the big screen just over my shoulder.”
Wilson doesn’t stop with the TV show; he is turning CIO Live into a social media phenomenon within Accenture. “Before the show, people start tweeting that they are on their treadmill ready for CIO Live,” and I post photos to my blog of me in makeup,” he says. “People across the company get together and watch the show as teams.”
CIO Live has been such a hit that Wilson has set up a virtual TV studio and green screen at home, which will allow him to broadcast more often than four times a year. “I call it Virtual Live, and it is linked to my blog,” he says. “These are seven minute vignettes where I interview members of the IT leadership team on topics of interest to the entire IT organization.”
Being a Digital CIO means more than bringing digital capabilities to your business. In a world whose employees and customers are becoming accustomed to blogs and YouTube and twitter, “you have be digital yourself,” says Wilson. “You need a leadership style that appeals to the post millennials; you need to be good on camera.”
About Andrew Wilson
Andrew Wilson joined Accenture in 1988 and in September 2013, was named Chief Information Officer. Andrew leads the global IT operations, including the infrastructure, services and applications that enable Accenture people to work anytime, anywhere to serve their clients around the globe. Formerly, he was managing director, Fujitsu Services, United Kingdom, and served as a CEO for GE Capital IT Solutions in the United Kingdom. Andrew has a combined degree in computer science and business studies from Loughborough University in Leicestershire, United Kingdom.
Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, with more than 323,000 people serving clients in more than 200 cities in 56 countries. By focusing on their unparalleled experience, comprehensive capabilities across all industries and business functions, as well as extensive research on the world’s most successful companies, Accenture is able to help clients become high-performance businesses and governments. Accenture is headquartered in Dublin, Ireland.
Martha Heller is CEO of Heller Search Associates, an IT executive recruiting firm specializing in CIO, CTO, CISO and senior technology roles in all industries. She is the author The CIO Paradox: Battling the Contradictions of IT Leadership and Be the Business: CIOs in the New Era of IT. To join the IT career conversation, subscribe to The Heller Report.