The CIO is dead, long live the CDO-Chief Disruption Officer

The CIO 2020 will need to flex newer muscles to collaborate and emerge as an influential force who sets the direction and tone, instead of following through on what business demands.

disruptive technology / global impact on business
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I was on a global coaching pool call with the global CEO of a large FMCG organization. The CEO was speaking about his business strategy that would act as the larger context for us coaches, to work with the CEOs in our respective geographies.

The business goal centered around disruption and how this CEO pool had to adopt a new set of behaviors. The CEO wanted to adopt a ‘tech-first’ approach for transformation of the business and this put the respective CIOs bang in the middle.

Enough has been said about the current enterprise ecosystem and the complexities of the same, so I wouldn’t want to belabor the same and to be frank neither is that in my wheelhouse. My contribution would be in the areas of personal and systems thinking transformation for business results.

Jay Kumar Hariharan Jay Kumar Hariharan

Being a great systems thinker is a fundamental skill for the CIO to ensure he takes the ecosystem of stakeholders along with him. Sponsorship is fundamental for any change and more so in cases of disruption. The CIO will need to build and flex his “influence” muscles to build consensus, he will need to tap into networks of influence and build allyship.
Jay Kumar Hariharan

The extent of this change was made palpable only when the CEO of one of the world's biggest hotel chains said, “We are a technology company”, did the penny drop even for me. This was Arne. M. Sorenson - The global Marriott CEO talking about how Marriott was making 10 billion $ room sales and 30% of revenue was through online sales and this was way back in 2015. 

As of now, tech is not just an enabler but is pretty much the heart of the organization. Hence to be a digital leader, the CIO needs to transform himself into a business transformation agent and can’t wait in the sideline any longer. He/she will need to reinvent a new language and practice new ways of working to be relevant at the “Big Boys table”.

The CIO 2020 will need to flex newer muscles to collaborate and emerge as an influential force who sets the direction and tone, instead of following through on what business demands. They will need to understand organization culture as that will be the biggest curveball they will encounter on their way to engaging with the larger ecosystem to move forward. The pace and momentum for this can’t be outsourced entirely to other entities within the ecosystem.

Business decision making and unlocking value will be the new mantra!

Talking about disruption, it behooves everyone including coaches to relook at their practice. While we work with CXO’s and enable them to handle disruption or create disruption in the marketplace, it also became painfully imperative to look at our service in the mirror - The Coaching practice seemed to be the last bastion to fall to AI and Robotics, but guess what?

Our human practice is also set to be disrupted, thanks to social learning robots like Fur hat. As Coaches, we are eager to embrace a practice that may be partially offset by co bots. This future demands that we show up as our best selves while the transactional bits are taken care of by bots.

 This segue was only to elaborate that as a coaching practice, we also take our own medicine. In that spirit, read on about what CIOs can do at different levels of engagement- at the level of self, team and finally the enterprise.

Allow me to elaborate

The personal leadership of the CIO has never been tested as much as it will be tested in the near future. He/she will be the harbinger of change and hence disruption. They will need to bring their best selves to work every single day to model the change they would want their ecosystem to recognize and imbibe. They will have to double up as ambassadors of tomorrow and evangelize how TECH could significantly enhance their business offerings. Maintenance of the status quo will be business as usual.

This change will have to follow a Mindset, Skillset and Toolset approach that will see them disrupt their existing style of leading themselves, their teams and consequently will affect the way they will interact with leaders from other teams and departments. The CIO has to rebrand his/her own identity, to begin with, and that’s not an easy climb, they have to rigorously introspect on how they can lead and influence better.

The team 

They will need to adopt a hands-off approach to ensure their team members invests in themselves, can see the larger picture while solving the day to day challenges that they find themselves enmeshed in. The CIO needs to be able to inspire his team to push their boundaries, build their business understanding and work the network to push for frictionless efficiency.

The Ecosystem

Understanding the various cogs and levers in the ecosystem is a must for them. Being a great systems thinker is a fundamental skill for the CIO to ensure he takes the ecosystem of stakeholders along with him. Sponsorship is fundamental for any change and more so in cases of disruption. The CIO will need to build and flex his “influence” muscles to build consensus, he will need to tap into networks of influence and build allyship.

Jay Kumar Hariharan is an Executive Coach, Speaker, and Author. He helps C-Suite Leaders achieve sustainable leadership behavioral change.

Disclaimer: This article is published as part of the IDG Contributor Network. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the contributing authors and not of IDG Media and its editor(s).

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