The Path of the Strategic CIO

Every article hits you over the head with the knowledge that the digital age is here, and executives are scrambling to face that reality. Phil Weinzimer, President of Strategere Consulting, has talked with CIOs and written extensively on the nature of the “strategic CIO.” In an interview for TechTarget, Nicole Laskowski discusses with Weinzimer the elements of a strategic CIO and how such CIOs are poised for the digital age.

Dimensions of Transformation

Weinzimer has found that there are four transformations that IT leaders undergo in order to become strategic CIOs. First, they establish trust with the business by delivering reliable core IT service. Second, they learn and develop business skills within IT so that IT can relate better to the business. Third, they get proactive about partnering with the business to create innovation. And finally, they use technology to evolve the business model and create a new competitive advantage.

In order to measure maturity of transformation, Weinzimer imagines two dimensions on an axis. One dimension measures efficiency of IT service delivery. The other measures the direct business value being derived from IT’s actions. Weinzimer’s best example of a strategic CIO transforming the business comes from Build-A-Bear Workshop. It used to be that customers entered the store, bought a product, and left, and the business captured no information about customers. Now that process has changed:

Now, Build-A-Bear has a website, customers can go online and look at the different animals. When they go to the store, the company knows who they are. When customers go through the process of building a bear, there is a digital interaction. … Customers still pay the $100-plus, and customers still get an adoption certificate. They go home, and now the customers can interact with a number of Build-A-Bear’s video games. So, now, the company can monitor how customers are using its products and services, and they can market to the customer.

A strategic CIO always chases the business value, with exceptional IT service delivery being the favored vehicle to deliver it. Strategy, value, and innovation are necessarily interrelated. You can view the full interview here:

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