Over the past two articles, we briefly reviewed how CIO’s could drive success by leading people and managing processes.
The third component is technology. It seems like a no-brainer to associate technology to the chief information/technology officer. But let’s consider that the CIO may not be the best person in the organization to critique or recommend technology. The CIO doesn’t really need technology. As an executive, the CIO’s role is to strategize, lead, direct, motivate, delegate tasks and breakdown silos on behalf of the enterprise. And to whom does the CIO have to delegate these tasks? Well, arguably, the most technically savvy team in the company, the IT department. They create, configure, deploy, troubleshoot and generally love technology. The IT Team makes sure that all technology works perfectly for the CIO. So, how does the CIO provide technology-driven success? Here are some other “C” roles the CIO needs to play in the enterprise.
CDO – Chief Dissatisfaction Officer: Users normally do not raise technology issues to the CIO. They may complain to the manager of application development or the network administrator, but never to the CIO. Executives, in general, and the CIO, specifically, need to proactively canvas the enterprise looking for dissatisfaction. Keep the enterprise grounded and motivated in their use of technology. Meet with department heads and ask about problems. Facilitate user forums for key technology offerings to solicit honest feedback on usability, accuracy and completeness. Provide a safe and open process for users to raise, discuss and resolve issues.
CQO – Chief Quality Officer: This has nothing to do with operational quality control. This means the CIO needs to personally review new technology that the IT team is deploying. Developers should make formal presentation to the CIO on major releases and new applications. Infrastructure engineers should provide demonstrations and presentations on features to the CIO. The CIO needs to critique the solution and challenge the process, interfaces and deployment plans. The CIO is uniquely qualified for three reasons:
• Experience – The CIO has the most experience with technology offerings and brings this wealth of experience to the table. Best-in-class solutions do not happen without brutally honest, expert, constructive criticism.
• Desire – The CIO cares more about the quality of technology offerings than anyone else in the company. Technology drives business growth and success. The CIO owns every technology offering. That is what you signed up for when you became the CIO.
• Motivation – Your team just spent a lot of time developing, configuring and preparing for this rollout. They probably worked late, came in early and missed family events so your strategic project was a success. This is your opportunity to lead. Acknowledge their accomplishments in front of their supervisors and peers. Let your team know what a great job they did.
CPO – Chief Praise Officer: The CIO needs to be as informed as anyone about every technology offering in the IT arsenal of tools. The CIO needs to be informed and prepared to answer impromptu technical questions when asked by the executive team. Senior leadership needs to believe the CIO is a technologist, as well as a strategist. Each answer should include a subtle, yet effective, commercial for the capabilities and successes of the IT team. It’s the CIO’s job to make each person on the IT Team look like a superstar to the executive team. You can only do that if you are well informed about what technology you have, how it works and how it drives success.
CCO – Chief Communications Officer: The IT team has a lot of projects on the docket. We push out MS Windows patches to the user community, always at an inconvenient time. We take the mainframe offline for maintenance and upgrades. We take the network down to make repairs. We try to schedule service interruptions on holidays, weekends, or when everyone else is sleeping. That is not always possible. Even when everything goes according to plan, users are inconvenienced. Worse, when things go south, little inconveniences grow into big ones and operations are impacted. The CIO needs to keep everyone informed. The CIO should send an email blast that a deployment is starting. If it is going to run longer than expected, the CIO lets everyone know with another blast. When things go south, the CIO explains, IN BUSINESS-SPEAK, what happened, apologizes and takes the heat. When things go well, and the deployment completes as expected, the CIO alerts the company of the success, publicly praises the efforts of the team and thanks the users for their patience.
It always comes down to people, process and technology. People-driven success takes leadership. Process-driven success takes collaboration. Technology-driven success takes evangelism. CIOs need to be skilled at all three.
Real-CIO Consulting is a Professional Services organization founded to provide strategic CIO Consulting Services to companies that cannot justify a full-time CIO or IT Department. It provides mentoring services to those looking to enter or advance in their technology careers. Most importantly, it is founded to give back to an IT community that has been so good to us all.