The Dual Roles of Strategic CIOs

CIOs play an important role in driving business and creating a competitive advantage for the company through technology. However, CIOs have different kinds of power and make different impacts on their company. Some CIOs focus mainly on their specialized tasks without spending time outside of the IT department, whereas others use IT as a tool to achieve the final business goals. In writing for the Enterprisers Project, Sven Gerjets says that strategic CIOs, in order to survive and stand out in the competitive market today, should be able to do both of these things:

  1. Build products that generate revenue.
  2. Cut down business costs by technology.

Be the Best of Both Worlds

What differentiates a company from others is legacy technology and the values it has created for the company. However, you cannot live in 2017 and have 1997’s sense of fashion, so legacy technology needs to be up to date with the trends and society, as well. The best solution is to determine your business goals and what parts of your legacy technology help achieve them. Extract these key functions and modernize them, making them aligned with your business needs through agile processes.

Generating customer value should also be one of the biggest targets. Retaining customers and prying loyalty benefits your pocket. This is why call centers make a significant impact on customer satisfaction when you automate processes for a large population. In the information age where the success of a company is largely defined by the utilization of technology and digital transformation, CIOs shouldn’t just stick to their own desk and isolate their department from other branches of the big company. Gerjets agrees with this point:

As a new CIO, I think your goal is always to be able to get IT functioning to the point where you can spend less and less time focused on IT, and more and more time focused on the business and the outside world. By the end of my tenure at DirecTV, I probably spent more than 70 percent of my time with business partners, focused on helping them figure out where they needed to go, and how we could align IT to get them there.

A CIO job is in some ways similar to a marketing job—you work with other departments to launch new products and stay ahead of the competition. At the same time, you also work on the return of your advertising spend, because ignoring either of these will lead to some tangible losses that keep you up at night.

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