You’d have to be living under a rock not to notice the multitudes of research and conversations taking place about the changing role of Information Technology. And the curiosity is merited.
Technology is changing everything about our preferences, what we want and how we live our lives. And it is altering almost everything we know about business. It’s fair to say that IT is now embedded in all business decisions. Or at least it should be.
For IT executives, these are exciting times but also very demanding times. Consider this to get your mind thinking: The “I” in CIO is about innovation, integration, imagination, and intelligence, not just information. A thought recently shared by @ValaAfshar and I think it hits the nail on the head!
If you believe this line of thinking, you’ll realize that CIOs are under a great deal of pressure. Historically, the role of CIO was thought to be complicated, narrow and specific, one that is very focused on being a technical expert. You could relate it to the role of an accountant, a lawyer. But that’s no longer the case.
Now traditional business models are quickly becoming obsolete and technology is often the catalyst. Technology is far more than the thing that enables the business strategy – it is part of the strategy. Today, a great CIO needs to be as in tune with the business, its customers and the overall strategy as he or she is in the latest trends in technology.
This works both ways. A CEO who does not fully appreciate and understand the impact of technology on any business is missing the point of what is remarkably exciting and fascinating about the world we live in today. Quite simply, if a business is not innovating, it will most certainly be left behind – something I’ve blogged about before.
So I believe that it takes two. Yes, it’s a cliché, but there is no simpler truth for what makes the CEO and CIO relationship work – or other areas of the business such as Marketing and Human Resources. And that is precisely why it works for us at ING DIRECT.
Because we ask questions like, how can technology help our business grow? Does this innovation make sense for us? Does it represent our values and corporate culture? Does it meet the needs of our customers?
So our view is different. It is far less about the technology and more about the value proposition for our customers. I don’t think Charaka (our CIO) and I ever have conversations about specific technologies – even with a natural interest in technology, he might lose me after a few too many acronyms. Our chats always reflect the need to provide value for our customers and employees by making things simpler for them.
Successful CIOs uncover how CEOs think. They are bilingual in the languages of technology and business. They weed out the latest technology trends to find the ones that deliver on the business strategy, and meet the expectation of the corporate culture and its customers.
And ultimately they win the trust and support of their CEO and everyone in the business.