The CIO Primer : 5 Lessons for 2020
CIOs have a broader portfolio than ever. With technology at the core of most companies, the typical CIO is struggling to balance the daily tug of tactical responsibilities against the imperative of strategic objectives. Factor in new priorities such as enabling a remote and distributed workforce, and it becomes even more challenging. Keeping IT running is one thing—and that remains important, but now a CIO must chart a strategic path for the future of work. For most CIOs, this is the opportunity they’ve been waiting for, but it’s one they will have to share with other groups and leaders within their organization. We have spoken with CIOs and IT professionals across all major industries and have distilled their thinking into this brief report.
Evolve and Innovate
The impact of digital technologies on organizations around the world has been profound. To make sense of the future, a CIO must lead innovation throughout their organization. A Deloitte survey shows that 40 percent of CIOs think emerging technologies will have a significant effect of their businesses within three years—more than twice the figure of three years ago. CIOs that look at digital technologies for their company’s future, and rack up early wins with digital transformations, will help propel the business forward. Those that hesitate risk being left in the dust by competition. The time to move is now.
Lead, Listen, Lead
You’ve decided that you will advance your organization into the digital future. But leading a business through the tumult this might cause requires a steady hand, a willingness to take a risk, and, perhaps most importantly, an open mind. As CIO.com notes, a great IT leader is self aware. Selfaware leaders understand what they can and can’t do. CIO quotes Pamela Rucker, Chair of the CIO Executive Council’s Executive Women in IT, as saying that being self aware is absolutely vital, “because emotional intelligence accounts for 80-90 percent of the difference between average and outstanding leaders, and is twice as important as IQ. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen this played out in real-life. Effective leaders know how to gauge the environment and the players, and manage their communication so that the listeners get what their emotions are telling them they need.” An empathetic approach such as this one can help employees feel more engaged and productive and having the right communication channels are critical for remote and distributed teams.
Keep Your Door and Mind Open
If you think you’ve communicated enough, keep at it. Tim Ogawa, CIO at Boston Architectural College, says that to understand how he can improve the experience of administrators, faculty, and students, he has to have an open-door policy. If he didn’t, he wouldn’t get the complete picture. “I’m not a student or faculty member,” he told an interviewer. “So I don’t know the depths of the issues they need to solve. I listen to as many ideas as possible and I’m not afraid to be completely wrong from time to time.” Policies like Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) are fundamentally changing how organizations operate since they embrace the way people work. Such developments may go against IT instincts but have transformed the workspace. Had CIOs kept their minds closed, it might never have happened. Instead of employees or other constituents within an organization having to adapt to the way it works, the organization adapts to their needs for mobility and flexibility
Own the Big Picture
The many demands that go into pursuing a digital transformation provide a glimpse for the CIO into how the organization works—and what the future holds. In that way, it underscores that the CIO, with inputs and requirements coming from throughout the organization, is uniquely positioned to understand the big picture. The CIO is no longer a technology jockey who takes orders and implements. Rather, the CIO, who usually reports to the CEO, is a strategic business partner for the c-suite, guiding fellow c-level executives into the digital future.
Enhance the Customer Experience
If a CIO can lead the charge to enhance the customer experience, the organization will line up in support. A 2018 Harvey Nash survey shows that issues surrounding the customer experience rank in the top three of CIO digital priorities, with enhancing the customer experience at the top for 60 percent of CIOs, attracting new customers for 55 percent, and growing revenue from existing customers at the top for 52 percent. A tight focus on the customer experience, with tools for cloud communication and collaboration, which can extend the enterprise to remote employees, partners, and customers.
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