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CIO Review >> Magazine >> March - 2015 issue

"Leading with the Speed of Light" – Presenting new CIOs as Chief Acceleration Officer


Consider a scenario where you can walk into a top management meeting and could say the following things to the board of directors –
• I will reduce the time taken for product development and speed up the go to market,
• I will eliminate the wait time for our customers and accelerate deliveries to them,
• I will reduce inefficiencies in our systems and enable our delivery teams to deliver on time – everytime,
• I will reduce the accounts receivables cycle and make sure our accounts payables are streamlined –
The board may look at you in amazement trying to figure out what just got into your head BUT at the end of the day they will look up to you to lead or accelerate the change. That is the role of a CIO today – Chief Acceleration Officer.
As a CIO, you have the power and the knowledge to understand and analyze the critical processes within your company. How you use that knowledge is what sets you apart. Consider the following questions (and you must have an answer ready for these):
• Are you making the most of the opportunities that come your way by identifying the gaps, hits & misses and likewise work on the areas of improvement?
• Are you able to integrate the perspective so obtained with your immense knowledge about technology's capabilities to push your company in the fast lane towards what it must become?
• How do your peers and customers see you as – do they see you as a transformer—or a preserver of the status quo?

Today the CIO must be involved with and understand all of a company’s end-to-end processes. From manufacturing to marketing, from procurement to product development, from finance to social, the CIO and the business-technology team need to have immense insights into a company’s operations, its priorities, its vulnerabilities, and its opportunities.
Summarized below are some ideas toward which today's CIOs need to be devoting a great deal of time and thought to become Chief Acceleration Officers:

Kick the 80/20 Budget Habit - Simplify IT and Transform Your Spending
The IT policies of the past that led to the 80/20 trap are simply no longer able to meet the needs of today’s intensely demanding business world. These have not only become obsolete but also consume vast percentages of the IT budget and resources to maintain status quo and make it almost impossible for CIOs to fund new efforts, say for e.g. in analytics or cloud or mobile or social.

Lead the Social Revolution: Drive the Social-Enabled Enterprise
Social Media, Mobility, Analytics and Cloud are going to change the way businesses are done in the future. CIOs must embrace this and use it to their advantage. Engage with your customers and transform your back office and front office to a CUSTOMER office. In coming times, Customer Behavioral Patterns will increasingly drive the way products and services are developed and delivered. This underlines the importance of how technology is shaping the ecosystem, a fact that can no longer be ignored, and one that warrants you to place your ears on the ground.

Upgrade “IT Strategy” to “Business Transformation Enabled by IT.”
In order to accelerate business growth where IT is seen as an enabler of that growth, it is crucial that a CIO must understand the objectives and the expected results and outputs while adopting any technology or approach. A strategic CIO should collaborate with the CEO in upgrading that tech-centric plan into a broader vision for a sweeping business transformation of the entire enterprise. The IT organization should act as a catalyst to an organization’s overall growth strategy and should be nimble, active and opportunistic rather than be seen as passive and reactive.

The CIO as a visionary - Transforming Data into Insights, creating opportunities to grow the business
In a dynamic marketplace, CIOs do not just “keep the lights on”; they play a decisive role in driving growth through use of new technologies in a way that adds value to the organizations business. Transforming data into valuable insights can give your business the much-needed spark it needs to stand out among the rest. With data at your command, you can create new products and services, improve productivity, reduce operational costs, drive revenue and improve customer service through the use of this data. And this is what will make you stand apart – a business accelerator in the true sense.

Embrace Technology and Innovation: More Innovation, Less Integration.
Gone are the days when the CIO was considered as a person who had to align the IT to an organization’s business strategy, today the CIO is seen as an innovator and a business enabler. The role of the CIO will continue to evolve and will be centred around embracing disruptive technologies to truly deliver on the operational excellence and business enablement that new technology affords. Going forward, embracing the next round of disruptive IT will require more dramatic changes to internal operations and customer relations.
This is where the transformational CIO will have an opportunity to lead the way. CIOs that adopt this approach will be able to create IT infrastructures that improve the quality of products and services provided, whilst simultaneously driving efficiencies and cost reductions.

In a box
“The old way was about technology-centricity; the new way is about technology-empowered business strategies. The old way was information management; the new way is information intelligence. The old way was IT systems management; the new way is platforms that enable new value chains and integrated ecosystems. The old way was cost management; the new way is driving business transformation and accelerating growth.”