Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Where to draw a line ?

A recent conversation with another CXO, I came across an unusual observation from the lady, which lead to me rethink the question, what is indeed the role of a CIO in a company. Should it be limited to creatng technology projects based on business priorities and strategy or it should go beyond the "normal" definition towards being the "Change Agent" beyond IT.

The CIO drives change that is created with the creation and implementation of IT systems or lead by some technology deployment. Successful execution creates positive value for the company, whereas change when not managed effectively may result in technology lead expensive inefficient processes. The good CIOs do not wait for business to spell out the next system change or new initiatives, they create the need based on their appreciation of how the new solution may create value for the enterprise.

Some CIOs with dual roles, i.e. IT and another business function have lattitude in what they do and also the span of influence is larger. These individuals tend to have higher success with change as compared to technology only CIOs (with a few exceptions). As CIOs move up and sideways in the enterprise, their well rounded view of the functioning of each department and function creates many opportunities for being the "Change Agent".

During my discussion with the lady, I spelt out a few initiatives taken up by the IT organization towards creating efficiencies and adding to the bottom line (most of the initiatives had no technology), I was advised that in many companies other CXOs (respective function heads) would typically take up such initiatives and not leave it to the CIO. She also advised me that such initiatives will typically fail because of lack of ownership towards change by respective business units.

While some of the comments resonate with the past, I believe that the new age CIOs do not wait for such initiatives to be thrust upon them, but take on challenges and opportunities even if they may be disruptive to some. The success of such initiatives will ultimately depend on the CEO or the Management Board endorsing the actions of the CIO.

The future does promise to get exciting for an enterprise where empowerment is the norm and CXOs are free to constructively challenge each others domain to take performance to the next level. Afterall as Jim Collins says "Good is the enemy of Great".

1 comment:

  1. This post was awesome. I loved it. If the CIO has created alignment with business groups and CEO and gained acceptance within the enterprise then chances of not getting sponsorship isnt really a problem and the Execs will own it too.