What makes an IT leader stand out? Deloitte recently conducted its Global CIO Survey to better understand the traits of CIOs at high-performing companies (HPC) and uncover what makes them so successful. Khalid Kark, CIO Program research director at Deloitte, summarized the findings into these key takeaways. Here are our thoughts on each:
Prioritize performance and growth over cost. While cost is top of mind for most CIOs, what sets high-performing CIOs apart from their peers is their ability to think beyond direct cost-cutting pressures to “create capital for IT initiatives that support digital, data, and other priorities.” When cost reduction becomes a parallel priority to other revenue drivers for growth, CIOs will be more effective and begin to evolve their role on the executive bench.
Consider CFO, business unit relationship above CEO relationship. A strong relationship between the CFO and the CIO means “smarter technology investments that align with strategic growth plans, improve business performance, and administer effective risk governance.” Ninety-three percent of top-performing CIOs consider their relationship with the CFO to be one of their top strategic priorities. Innovation is contingent upon the CFO and the CIO working closely to identify where investments can have the greatest business impact.
On a separate note, more than three quarters of HPC CIOs rank business unit relationships as “important for success.” This makes sense given the importance of adoption as an indicator of technology success. Routine feedback from those closest to end users – and insight into on how data can uniquely impact each business unit – helps CIOs make better decisions about where to make improvements.
Invest in grooming, motivating, and engaging talent. According to Kark, “HPC CIOs groom, motivate, and engage talent by articulating a vision, strong beliefs, and clear expectations, and by aiming to create a high-performance culture.” Much like with leadership across other functions, finding the right team to support needs at every level and delegating tasks accordingly creates a deep bench of talent for coaching, motivation, and support at each tier. Engaging talent today requires managers to customize the way they communicate with teams as individuals and as a collective unit. With the prevalence of remote work and retention a top priority, executives need to find novel ways to empower teams.
Focus on CX as a competitive differentiator. The survey found that “high-performing CIOs also prioritize gathering and analyzing customer data – about two times as often as others.” A data-driven approach allows IT leaders to keep a steady pulse on creating a positive experience, analyzing points of friction that could potentially be causing productivity loss while also frustrating employees and customers in the process. Be it through partnerships or implementations, understanding individual behaviors toward technology can make all the difference. CIOs who prioritize data and can decisively act based on that intelligence will be best situated as leaders.
Link cybersecurity and privacy investments to growth and customers. Half of those surveyed chose “managing cybersecurity and information risk” as a top technology initiative (twice as much as their counterparts). Investing in security helps build trust with partners, employees, and customers alike.
With cloud migration, a key initiative, these observations illustrate how CIOs need to adapt to deliver on the promise of innovation and best position their business for success. In parallel, many of the above traits shed light on how the extended IT team can become more agile and strategic to support these objectives. Moving communications to the cloud is a top agenda for 2017, and these qualities will become that much more important to hone so people can begin to benefit from the perks of a unified communications platform.