by Mitch Betts

CIO’s Guide to Becoming a Business Strategist

Jan 20, 20152 mins
Business IT AlignmentCIOIT Strategy

You're already an IT strategist, but the CEO needs you to help guide the business to new heights (and avoid being on the wrong end of digital disruption). These advice columns will put you on the right path.

business strategy
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You’re a CIO, so you’re already an IT strategist. You’ve got the email and the data center under control, you’ve wrestled with the ERP beast, and you’re trying to keep the hackers out. So why do you need to also be a business strategist? Isn’t that the CEO’s job?

business strategy cover

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Yes, but the CEO needs help. A PricewaterhouseCoopers survey of CEOs found that they view “technological advances” as the No. 1 trend transforming their business over the next five years. (Dirty little secret: The CEO and the board of directors are really, really afraid of being on the wrong end of digital disruption on their watch.)

This is where you come in — consider yourself the CEO’s chief digital consultant, helping the CEO find a way to be a digital hero, a disrupter instead of a disruptee. Our colleagues at the CIO Executive Council call this C-suite role the “digital pathfinder.”

But you’ll need more than tech savvy. You’ll need to thoroughly understand how your business makes money and monitor the broader trends in your industry (and society at large) so you can identify new business opportunities and risks.

You’ll need political savvy, too. Not the bad kind that features sharp elbows and backstabbing. The good kind, where you work with C-suite colleagues to move the business forward, together.

The digital pathfinder will either be you, as CIO, or the CMO (or perhaps both of you as a dynamic duo). Otherwise, the CEO will hire a hotshot chief digital officer to do the job and you’ll be left sweeping up the digital crumbs. So let’s get started. The expert advice in these pages, carefully selected from CIO magazine’s Business Strategist columns, will put you on the right path.