15 October 2018 by Spencer Symmons
According to a recent survey from Gartner, 84% of CIOs from top digital performers have reimagined their role and now have responsibilities outside of traditional IT. Not only does this mean that the role of the CIO is changing, it means that the CIO can have a direct influence on the business’ strategy and growth. Just 23% of CIOs rated their organisation as effective at business strategy and planning, so what are some of the problems facing CIOs in embedding IT into the plan for the future of their firms?
A divided strategy
CIOs planning an ‘IT strategy’ separately from the business strategy cannot influence business growth in the way that their counterparts with combined strategies can. If strategies are separate, technology cannot be used to achieve overall business goals and, in some circumstances, the two strategies could be working against each other. In order to allow IT to drive business growth, technology must be embedded within the overall business strategy. This allows CIOs to be proactive rather than reactive; creating opportunity rather than always responding to business needs.
Fail to plan, plan to fail
Recognising that the IT strategy and business strategy must be one and the same is all well and good, but what about those who don’t have a set plan? Many businesses have no formal business strategy, which can be both challenge and opportunity to the CIO. If a business is without a clearly articulated or documented business strategy, this is the perfect opening to ensure that IT is embedded within the overall business strategy. Increasingly, CIOs are gaining responsibility for innovation and transformation, being ideally placed to use burgeoning technology to enable success. The best way to ensure the business is able to take advantage of new technologies is to create a clear and concise business strategy, with IT at the heart.
Who’s got the time?
IT departments are busy. Often, responding to operational needs will take precedent, meaning that CIOs struggle to find the time to strategize. Developing strategy is difficult and, like any other skill, it can only be improved upon by frequent practice. CIOs must be allowed time to create and develop strategy to move the business forward.
Don’t believe the hype
Moving out from the confines of the IT department can be difficult for CIOs, and a significant challenge can be living up to the sometimes unrealistic boardroom expectations set by industry buzzwords. CIOs must relay technical information to executives in a meaningful way, helping them to understand how IT can make the business more efficient and how new technology can be used to meet the key business objectives.
Whilst the change in the nature of CIO roles can be a challenge, there are many opportunities available to both the CIO and organisations who embrace technology at the centre of their business strategy. Those that successfully embed IT into their business strategy will be much more likely to survive and thrive the shifting landscape of the business world as we approach the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
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