Today’s definition of ‘IT leader’ means something entirely different than it did 10 years ago. The traditional mindset of ‘command and control’ has given way to an era that encourages employee empowerment and embraces the next generation in IT innovation. Former Apple CEO and arguably the greatest innovator of our generation, Steve Jobs, said it best when discussing his leadership philosophy, “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do”. Modern CIOs can’t afford to be stagnant or complacent; they must constantly seek out new ways to become more agile, efficient, and productive while simultaneously supporting the rising digital demands of today’s marketplace.
The influx of mobile, cloud, big data, and social technologies have exposed the importance of the customer experience, and have been cause for widespread transformation efforts among modern enterprises. While the pressure to pursue digital transformation is widely felt within the IT community, many have only ‘dipped their toes’ in the digital waters. However, this is not the case for all organizations. This year’s 29th annual CIO 100 Awards will recognize seven CIOs, chosen from a pool of roughly 500 nominations, who have consistently demonstrated their ability to create business value through the innovative use of technology.
What Separates the Good from the Great
What separates these CIOs from the rest, you ask? Well, although each has a unique philosophy and a differing approach, they all attribute one common trait to their success; the ability to consistently evolve in their role as a CIO and adapt to modern business and market demands. However, the difference between a good leader and a great one cannot be credited entirely to one characteristic or ability. The following are key attributes of this year’s CIO Hall of Fame inductees, and can be found in the majority of today’s most innovative and forward-thinking CIOs.
It used to be that CIOs were focused solely on automating for efficiency; however, the grave impact of digital transformation has forced CIOs to shift their previous technology-centric mindset to one that focuses heavily on aligning IT with business strategy. For the most progressive CIOs, this has meant taking a ‘business first, technology second’ approach to solving for modern business challenges. Through this, organizations are able use the main factors driving business today, such as the customer experience and bottom line revenue, as a basis for their strategy development.
A Drive for Change
Each of this year’s CIO Hall of Fame inductees share the desire to solve business challenges and drive change within their organization. Somewhat echoing the previous points, these CIOs attribute much of their success to their ability to ‘see the forest through the trees’. In an effort to better align IT with business strategy; these CIOs have removed themselves from the day-to-day activities within their IT departments to play a more immersive role on the strategic leadership team.
With an attitude and approach to thinking that actively seeks out change, rather than waiting to adapt to change, and a mindset that embraces critical questioning, innovation, service, and continuous improvement, it’s no wonder that all seven of this year’s CIO Hall of Fame inductees self-identify as entrepreneurs. In an age when businesses are feeling the pressure to do more with less, it’s becoming increasingly important for IT leaders to have the entrepreneurial spirit needed to drive innovation.
Although CIOs play an integral role in helping their organizations navigate what’s possible with technology, no one can solve the ever-changing challenges of IT alone. With that said, perhaps the most significant attribute that today’s most successful CIOs possess is the ability to know when to leverage the insights and expertise of their peers and other thought-leaders in the industry. IT sourcing advisors can provide the strategic guidance and consultation necessary to effectively analyze IT costs, define opportunities and assess various solutions organization’s specific needs, and evaluate alternative outsourcing options to determine the best sourcing strategy to employ based on an organization’s current state and desired future direction.