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CIOs need to be more innovative

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The job of CIO is becoming increasingly difficult as we move further into the 3rd Platform era – but pressure to keep costs down, maintain a consistent infrastructure, and to innovate has left many CIOs flat-footed, playing a catch-up game trying to integrate new innovations rather than driving them.
A new International Data Corporation (IDC) study, “The Changing Role of IT Leadership: CIO Perspectives for 2016”, examines CIO and line of business (LOB) executive perceptions of IT, the changing role of IT leadership from being an operational player to a strategic partner, and how to leverage IDC’s Leading in 3D framework to thrive in digital transformation (DX).
According to the study, based on results from IDC’s 2015 CIO Sentiment Survey and LOB Sentiment Survey, the way in which CIOs view themselves has a direct impact on how they view the job in which they function and their relationship with LOB executives.
Of the 150 CIO respondents, 40,7% viewed themselves as operational, 34% viewed themselves as service managers, and 25,3% viewed themselves as innovation officers. Conversely, 40,9% of LOB respondents view their CIO as an innovation officer, with only 27,5% viewing their CIO as operational.
This is indicative of the challenge that CIOs face in evolving their role, where having to meet operational requirements is holding some back from meeting the new expectations of their business counterparts.
“CIOs who stay operational will find themselves further marginalised over the next three years. For these executives to stay relevant, they must shift their focus to transformation and innovation and incorporating those innovations into their stable infrastructures. ‘Just keeping the lights on’ will lead the business to find other sources for technology leadership and innovation,” says Mike Jennett, vice-president of research for Enterprise Mobility in IDC’s IT Executive Program.
To help CIOs partner with and further educate the business, IDC has introduced the Leading in 3Dframework that enables CIOs to be directly engaged in every phase of business Digital Transformation – from innovation to service delivery, with a special focus on IT’s ability to manage the transition from one to the other. IDC predicts that through 2018, two-thirds of CIOs will have embraced Leading in 3D, which requires them to simultaneously innovate, integrate, and incorporate:
* Innovate within a cross-functional partnership to create digital innovations;
* Integrate new technology platforms into stable business services; and
* Incorporate new skills, techniques, and culture into the fabric of the IT organisation.
According to the new report, there are interesting correlations between how CIOs view themselves and how they view their main area of focus. 67.2% of operational CIOs will be focusing on innovation, while only 26,3% of innovation CIOs will put their focus there. As a result, IDC concludes that operational CIOs are getting the message.
To be competitive in this rapidly changing environment of digital transformation, the IT organization and the CIO must undergo a transformation from a focus on operations and service brokering to a focus on partnership, innovation, and new, digitally-enabled products and services.
“Our research notes a fundamental shift in the role of CIOs as seen by themselves and the business because of the 3rd Platform and digital transformation. While many CIOs have embraced this change, there is still a large percentage that will benefit from evaluating their organizations as well as their relationship with their business counterparts as they continue on this journey,” Jennett adds.