The evolution of the CIO role from one that is focused primarily on operations to one that is largely focused on business strategy and innovation has been a recurring theme at this year’s CIO Leadership Conference. In fact, several of the sessions addressed the skills CIOs need to master in order to succeed as business strategists. One workshop in particular dealt with CIOs’ need to understand their companies’ markets. Robert Urwiler, the CIO of Vail Resorts, and David Webb, the CIO of Silicon Valley Bancshares Financial Group, discussed the ways in which they’ve learned about their companies’ target markets. Urwiler and Webb developed a list of 10 questions that every CIO should be able to answer about the markets their companies serve:
10) Who are your customers by company, division and line of business, and how are your cusotmers segmented within each division?
9) What are the touchpoints you have with your prospective, current and past customers?
8) What do your customers value about your products, services and interactions compared with your competitors?
7) What choices besides your offerings do your customers have, and on what basis do they generally choose?
6) What are your key performance indicators (KPIs), and how do they match with your customers’ KPIs? How do you track KPIs?
5) How will globalization and increased regulation affect your markets and your market strategy?
4) What are your potential disruptive market forces (e.g. an economic downturn), and how quickly could you respond?
3) How is the customer profile expected to evolve over the next decade?
2) How is your business portfolio expected to evolve over the next decade?
1) How is your competitive landscape expected to evolve over the next decade? How would you deal with irrational competitor behavior?
How many of these questions can you answer? Would you add any questions to this list? The more questions you can answer, the better prepared you are to take on business strategy discussions.