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The CIO’s next role: Business co-creator

CIOs are increasingly working with business peers and third parties to develop new digital products and services, a major theme at the MIT Sloan CIO Symposium in May.

The CIO’s next role: Business co-creator
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CIOs long ago shed their perception as order-taking technologists to those with a seat at the executive table, a badge of honor that underscores their arrival as trusted business partners. But to retain this elevated status in an era when businesses are increasingly leaning into digital capabilities, today’s IT leaders must now co-create new products and services for customers.

That may sound daunting for CIOs, many of whom are modernizing IT systems and spearheading digital transformations. But consider that CIOs are best positioned among their C-suite peers to co-create with business partners. Design thinking, agile practices, an increasing emphasis on learning about customers’ needs — IT leaders are uniquely steeped in what drives business strategy.

While many consider this phenomenon IT-business alignment, co-evolution may be a better metaphor. Borrowed from biology, co-evolution encompasses organic synergies among IT and business, as well as with partners and the broader ecosystems at work in a sector, said Joe Peppard, principal research scientist of MIT’s Sloan Center for Information Systems Research, at the MIT Sloan CIO Symposium in Cambridge, Mass., in May.

“In the past, business defined how to solve a problem and looked to IT to solve it,” said Belkis Vasquez-McCall, a partner at McKinsey Digital, at the Symposium. “Now IT executives are co-defining the problem and leading the evolution around defining a solution. We have to come together to participate in the new economy.”

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