by Lauren Brousell

CIOs Must Collaborate to Spark Transformation

May 23, 20143 mins
CIOCollaboration SoftwareIDG Events

At CIO Perspectives San Francisco, IT executives learned how to drive transformation at their enterprises by partnering with business leaders and finding top-notch talent. (Includes a video report from the event.)

“Don’t boil the ocean,” was the advice David Thompson, CIO of Western Union, offered at CIO Perspectives San Francisco this week. “If you wait three years to deliver value, the business will lose interest.”

Instead, he said, show the results-focused business you can regularly provide value through smaller projects, quick wins and continuous improvement.

Thompson, who joined the 162-year-old company in late 2012, told the room of senior IT executives that they have the unique opportunity to spark business transformation but can only reach that goal through key partnerships with business leaders and by finding and keeping the right talent.

Echoing the importance of talent that aligns with your company’s goals was Chris Morgan, executive coach and founding principal at Morgan Alexander. The war for talent is “mission critical,” but CIOs can tap into high potential employees already at their companies instead of looking for outside candidates.

Morgan said nurturing in-house talent means “regular, frequent, ongoing coaching,” and CIOs need to move away from the traditional model of yearly performance reviews. HR departments will take a back seat and let CIOs take the lead on talent development. “Investing in talent is not resisted and not looked at like cost cutting,” he said, adding that CIOs should reward employees not just for their accomplishments but for their commitment to doing the best job possible.

[Related: CIOs Talk Hiring and How to Win the ‘War for Talent’]

Talent is among the top disruptors for CIOs as well as CMOs. “Inside their own organizations [CMOs] have a huge problem of acquiring new talent,” said Donovan Neale-May, founder and executive director of the CMO Council. “Some are going to the IT department to see if they can recruit them to come into marketing.”

Consumerization Means CIO-CMO Collaboration

Michael Mathias, CIO at Blue Shield of California, said healthcare is just starting to move toward consumerization, which requires collaboration between IT and marketing. Through working together on a new mobile app and Web portal, Mathias now meets with his CMO on a daily basis to talk about digital strategy, data strategy and the progress of their three-year roadmap.

Neale-May said CIOs and CMOs have common goals and can achieve them by combining the strengths of their departments. “360-degree view of the customer is what [everyone] wants,” he said, and the only way to do that is to “be more strategic and predictive.”

Wrapping up the day, Meredith Whalen, senior vice president of IT executive, industry and financial research at IDC, circled back to the day’s theme of transformation.

Whalen said CIOs are feeling the pressure to move to the third platform — the new generation of IT infrastructure driven by social, mobile, analytics and cloud technologies — which will allow them to deepen customer relationships, create new innovative products and services, and improve internal operations.

To do this, Whalen has this advice for CIOs:

  • First, stop thinking business process and start thinking business in order to create innovative IT-enabled products.
  • Second, bring your workplace and your workforce into the next generation by hiring millennials and redesigning your corporate culture.
  • Third, market your IT services so your employees and customers see the value.
  • Lastly, examine your vendor relationships to see if they are performing well against your business goals and then work to start innovating together.

“True innovation is not predictable,” Whalen said. “You have to be comfortable going down exploration paths that will lead you to a higher place.”

Lauren Brousell is a staff writer for CIO magazine. Follow her on Twitter @LBrousell. Follow everything from on Twitter @CIOonline, Facebook, Google + and LinkedIn.