The CIO as the Business Mastermind

Dennis Reif, Global Director, Managed Services
March 30, 2021
Blogs | Managed Services

Today’s CIOs are facing unprecedented challenges. They need to make the transition from an IT Manager to a “Business Mastermind” – planning and directing IT to meet changing business objectives. What is this new role, and what responsibilities come with it? 

The New Normal
The “new normal” is a VUCA world. VUCA stands for: 

  • Volatility 
  • Uncertainty 
  • Complexity 
  • Ambiguity 

Examples of a VUCA world include: the current COVID-19 pandemic, the recent Texas snowstorm, and hurricanes in the Southeast region of the USA. COVID-19 led to questions around business continuity and new ways of working. A workforce, as well as their companies, require both to stay in business in the short-term and become more resilient while ensuring growth in the long term. At the beginning of COVID-19, network connections were saturated and needed to be upgraded, hardware for the workforce needed to be procured and rolled out, and video calls – instant on-demand availability and presence – became the new state-of-the-art. The end result was the creation of a “new way of working.” CIOs and their IT departments had to provide technological leadership in order to keep the lights on at work – wherever the work was performed.  

What Now? 

The “new normal” is here to stay. It is not a question of whether there will be another unprecedented event, but when. Remote work and office work need to be simultaneously possible and fully enabled. Remote work should not replace the office, but rather complement interpersonal relationships in the traditional office workspace. This gives today’s workforce more options with work-life balance. To achieve this balance, IT infrastructure needs to be modernized, made secure and resilient, and business data and processes need to be digitalized to ensure business resiliency and success. IT will be asked to act as a value driver and profit enabler, instead of just a cost center. Each CIO needs to align and re-align their IT goals with the company’s business objectives and overall strategic goals. 

All these aforementioned changes – VUCA, new ways of working, modern IT infrastructure, and digitalization of business data & processes – are a lot for CIOs and their IT departments to master. It cannot all be done without some sacrifice. Routine IT operational tasks are really a commodity and should be performed by third-party companies specialized in such tasks so the CIO can focus on future business models based on agility and self-learning organizations. CIOs need to step in and be the leader of such changes in their organization. They will become the Business Masterminds, focused on value streams built on data and workflows. Existing analog business platforms can then be transformed into digital platforms where automation can be leveraged to drive significant business value. 

Three Steps for a CIO to Become a Business Mastermind
So, how does a CIO move forward into this new role?

  1. Create, enable, and foster the “new normal” 
    At the same time, stay agile and understand its consequences for your people.
  2. Set the IT strategy
    Consider business goals, security/resiliency requirements, and most of all, customer focus.
  3. Free up yourself and your people so you can focus on 1) and 2)
    Get rid of routine IT operational tasks and IT Service Management – a specialized Managed Service Provider can perform those tasks for you. This will allow you and your team to focus on bringing business value to your company.

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