The CIO's new role: More collaboration and less control

Kevin Taylor, President, Asia, Middle East and Africa, BT

Calculating the real cost of a technology remains a CIO specialty. The CIO should focus on identifying the technologies that enhance marketing efforts, including customer-facing, customer-enabling, marketing operations, and measurement and analytics.

Marketers, on the other hand, can use their specialised expertise and experience to help IT question assumptions and test outcomes. At the same time, IT should develop a customer-service mentality by listening closely to what the marketing team wants, and checking to see if solutions are effective.

Hybrid skills sets and grit
Successful CIOs ultimately need an array of skills, business acumen and determination. They must be adept at horizon scanning: looking at what their industry and others are doing and assessing what's applicable to their business.

Being commercially focused is also a vital requirement as is the ability to balance speed of delivery with reliability and security. As an individual and leader, the CIO needs to possess the grit, persistence and the flexibility it takes to deal with the pace of change.

The CIO and IT department are expected to work differently to optimally benefit from this evolution. Management must facilitate the collaboration between IT and other business departments and integrate IT in the core operations and decision processes. When business expectations change, it is up to business and IT management to act accordingly.

In BT, for example, when preparing the Olympics in London, members of our communication teams and managers went through personal transformations. We had to focus on the user experience and learn to provide the "integrated experience" of the people attending, following and watching the games. Technology became an integral part of enabling the user experience.

This need for transformation is further supported by a recent BT survey conducted with nearly 1,000 IT decision makers globally worldwide, including Singapore, on the "Modern CIO". The survey, targeted at understanding the drivers of change, and what CIOs need to do next and how they can work together with their technology partners to thrive; found that more than 80 percent of CIOs polled said they now own more, and are contributing more, to business KPIs.

But, achieving these KPIs isn't just about harnessing the latest technology. Increasingly, boards expect their CIOs to use creativity, commercial knowledge and communication skills to make the connections in their organisation that no one else is seeing.

The CIO's role is changing faster than ever. CIOs face pressures and increasing demands from all directions. However, despite the challenges we also found that these changes give CIOs a unique opportunity to redefine themselves and take a leading role in their organisation.

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