Five Winning Strategies of Successful CIOs

Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match! As customer service becomes the way of IT and digital technology becomes the way of today’s business, it’s crucial that CIOs play the role of liaison between the two. In an article for ZDNet, Mark Samuels describes what he views as the primary role of the chief of IT.

Strategic Matchmaking

1. Matchmaking for the Business
2. Catering to the External Customer

In the world of IT, the common assumption is that a CIO has two options; they can be either a force for business growth or they can maintain infrastructure, the “lights on” function. Samuels sees a third option, one where the CIO successfully balances both transformation and technology operation. The key for every CIO to remember is that business goals are paramount and that the king of all business goals is the external customer. Therefore, while internal IT service is certainly an important function of every operation, servicing only the business makes IT subservient (and redundant, since vendors are the new IT ‘service’).

The Balance of Tech Brokering

3. Positioning IT as a Tech Broker
4. Managing Stakeholder / End User Expectations

Omid Shiraji, the CIO of Working Links, is a firm adherent of the matchmaker ideology. He stresses service to the external customer, to the point that IT becomes a broker of technology solutions for the business. For instance, Shiraji has little qualms with shadow IT so long as it is safe and fulfills the needs of his customers. But Press Association head of information services David Reed cautions not to cave too far to employee demands. Instead, the CIO should garner the approval of fellow C-suite executives to ensure a fluid relationship with the businesses decision making apparatus.

Staying Engaged

5. Treating IT Problem Solving as a Continual Process

Lastly, CIO Sarah Leslie of Iglo Foods Group qualifies what it means to ‘win’ in the IT matchmaking contest. Any CIO who says they’re successful is probably taking their foot off the pedal, says Leslie. As most experienced IT managers know, there’s never a strategic endpoint, but rather the perpetual shaping of processes and relationships.

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