If something does not evolve, it will die out. This is as true in the world of CIO as it is in nature. IT departments strive to increase efficiency so as not to be left in the dust. However, being efficient does not necessarily mean driving business growth. Thor Olavsrud notes that strategic transformation is the mountain most organizations are finding it difficult to cross, and he uses a survey by Juniper Networks and the Economist Intelligence Unit to support his claim:
“We found that businesses today are primarily looking at IT to save money—for organizational efficiency,” says Bask Iyer, CIO of Juniper. “IT is not really looked at for growth. But the most financially successful companies are doing what other companies are not doing. They’re working closely with IT to develop new products. And they say IT is supporting their business growth by helping identify new opportunities. The highest performing companies are clearly seeing the benefits. They tend to look at the CIO role and IT as a strategic partner rather than as a backroom operator.”
The survey being referenced was based on the responses of 474 IT and business executives from Germany, Japan, the U.K. and the U.S. The study showed that most improvements being made in IT were incremental which slowed evolution. This is because most of the IT department’s time is now going to improving operational efficiency instead of dealing with strategic business. According to Olavsrud’s article, the solution may be to move IT from a supportive role to a more functional role.
Overall, the CIO must focus funds and attention toward a more collaborative process between business and IT. Breakthroughs in information technology are where the money is. Getting the ball rolling is not enough; the CIO has to get it rolling in the right direction.