Technology has drastically altered the landscape for business and executive teams. From greatly reduced life cycles to increasingly tech-savvy executives, this historic shift is transforming CIOs and demanding a new type of technology leadership.
The criteria for successful tech leadership has changed. Today's technology leader must be able to lead in a sea of technologists and an ocean of innovators. They must be visionary, innovative and transformative in order to lead against the critical success factors created by today's disruptive technologies.
“IT is your Swiss Army knife and your most underutilized asset.” -Hollis “Terry” Bradwell III, AARP's Chief Enterprise Strategy & Innovation Officer
This paper has been developed to aid boards and CEOs in their search for a different type of technology leader, one that can maneuver the evolving dynamics of the technology landscape while delivering high-quality, innovative operations. It has also been developed to help current technology leadership identify the characteristics that will deliver true business transformation in this rapidly changing environment, and outline the steps today's CIO must take to evolve into innovative leaders of the future.
A SEA OF TECHNOLOGISTS AND AN OCEAN OF INNOVATORS
The convergence of disruptive trends in technology—think cloud, social, mobile and big data—coupled with the permeation of technology into every aspect of our lives has enabled a value density that was unimaginable even 10 years ago. Heightened value density—the ability to deliver value faster, through a richer, more integrated and less resource-heavy experience—is shrinking life cycles and setting the bar high for how and what technology should be capable of.
Today, we are all technologists. We are able to make a phone call, order a pair of shoes and watch TV, at the same time, from the same device. Our personal expectations for what technology should do—both professionally and personally—has been conditioned by this type of heightened value density delivered in our everyday life.
In the past, the CIO was likely a company's only tech-savvy executive, often faced with the task of having to encourage his or her peers to leverage technology. Today's executives are informed and capable, with high expectations for how technology should be applied at an enterprise level to improve their business areas. This new executive has a Technology Persona.
This Technology Persona is not only comfortable with the tools and techniques of technology, they see past the baseline functionality of the devices and software that they are using to understand their capabilities in a way that enables them to envision solutions that do not exist yet. They are both technologists and tech innovators, a dynamic that demands a different kind of technology leadership.
The new technology leadership must be able to serve as a strategic advisor, not an order taker or technology pusher, to create solutions that are flexible, integrated and high in value density. The CIO will need to add value to the executive team and company in new ways, bringing more vision, facilitating innovation, and enabling technology across the organization.
THE TRANSFORMATIONAL CIO
While counterintuitive, many CIOs today do NOT possess the Technology Persona. They have become bogged down by the need to control and own technology, rather than seeking opportunities to innovate and enable. They were defined by an environment that encouraged an operational role that sought to limit change, constrain scope and enforce standards.
That environment has drastically evolved into one of fast-paced innovation, technology permeation and a growing community of technologists. That CIO of the past must adapt immediately to be the type of visionary, innovative and enabling leader organizations need to succeed. Today's CIO must deliver more than operational security. They must deliver transformation.