The Consumerization of IT Requires CIOs to Step it Up
Social sites like Facebook and mobile technology like the iPad have turned the employees you serve into uber-consumers of technology. Their expectations are sky-high. Literally.
In this hilarious video, comedian Louis CK offers a glimpse into our sense of technology entitlement. At about two minutes into the video, he reports being on an airplane that offers high-speed Internet – the newest technological advancement that he knows exists.
But, inevitably, this new technology malfunctions. Instead of marveling at what‘s possible, the guy next to him on the plane expresses his displeasure at losing his mile-high wi-fi, saying: “This is bulls**t.” As Louis CK observes: “How quickly the world owes him something that he knew existed only 10 seconds ago.”
Forgive the Vidal Sasoon reference, but that old advertising
tagline sure made a good point. A partnership is only successful
if the customer is happy with the outcome.
In this blog series so far, we've established that strategic
partners are customer-centric, they inspire thought leadership
in themselves and in their customers, and they achieve business
innovation for their clients.
But here's what really sets them apart: they hold themselves
accountable to those values by tying their own success to the
customer's business outcomes. They share risk in a tangible way.
Most CIOs I know are highly creative people. They have to constantly assess new technologies, design new ways to solve problems, and manage complex implementations throughout global organizations.
Sure, there is a lot of technical knowledge behind each of those tasks. But it takes an agile mind to accomplish all of that successfully.
CIOs have traditionally been responsible for maintaining an organization’s IT machine – which means that most of a CIO’s budget is allocated to maintenance and operations. So they haven’t always been able to let their creativity run wild.
The CIO has a unique challenge among all C-level executives. More than the others, you have to strike a balance between your left brain and right brain. You have to keep the traditional IT aspects functioning at optimal levels, streamlining operations and reducing costs.
But you also have to be creative, optimistic and far-reaching, brainstorming ideas for how to stretch the business into new areas.
The phrase “strategic partner” has become so familiar that I fear it’s lost its ability to convey its own importance. Every time two companies announce a partnership, they call it strategic.
But slapping the label on it doesn’t make it so.
Here’s why being truly strategic matters: the blistering pace of change in information technology is transforming the role of the CIO. To survive, CIOs must become business strategists. To become business strategists, CIOs must be free to focus on business outcomes– not just IT outcomes – and they must have service providers that will partner with them in that endeavor.
There's always been an element of trust needed when choosing an
IT outsourcing partner. But never before has that relationship
been so critical to the success of the organization and the CIO
as an individual.
The nature of the outsourcing relationship is changing. To add
value to an organization, CIOs and their IT outsourcing partners
must base those relationships on tangible business results that
help move the organization from ordinary to extraordinary.
The possibilities are endless for those who are able to build a
relationship that helps enable innovation, increase revenue and
achieve market leadership.
In the last blog I talked about generating endless possibilities
for your team. But just as important as having a team that can be
disruptive, is creating an environment in which that kind of
bold thinking will thrive.
In a comment to my article
Fazlin makes the valid point that "Innovation is the most misused
word currently. All companies talk about it but not sure how many
of them really keep an open culture for innovation."
So, what does create a culture open to disruptive innovation?
Innovation thrives in a culture that expects ideas, encourages risks
and removes the fear of failure to the point at which people are
actually willing to take risks.
We've talked about the endless possibilities for CIOs, and how
disruptive innovation is the key to realizing those possibilities.
But at the core of everything is your team. Are you – and the
people working with you – able to support and advance your
efforts to be disruptive?
In my article "The New Normal,"
I talk about building a team of change leaders. If you're the
team leader – whether as CIO or in another role – it's up to you
to set the example. It's up to you to recognize and cultivate
the skills that are required in today's New Normal.
We know disruptive innovation when we see it: iTunes, Netflix,
pocket calculators, the PC.
But considering what "disrupt" actually means, it's easy to be
intimidated. Webster says to disrupt is "to throw into disorder
or confusion. To interrupt or impede the usual course or harmony
of. To rupture."
It sounds painful, especially compared with "safer" innovations.
There are three types: Traditional innovation,
Evolutionary innovation and
Possibilities don't always present themselves as possibilities.
In fact, often they're disguised as problems.
I came to California straight out of college and purchased a
36-foot trawler in King Harbor Marina within two weeks of
arriving. I have plenty of boating experience on a lake. But I
had never piloted an ocean-going vessel. My first challenge came
before I even hit the water - insurance companies didn't like the
idea of insuring someone with no ocean experience. After many
calls, I finally found someone who would take a chance on me.
That boat was my home for the next five years. Since then I've
captained crews all over the world.
Computerworld's Premier 100 IT Leaders Conference is a rare
opportunity to gain insight on the way user companies deploy
their leadership strategies in the enterprise. At Premier 100,
IT executives join thought leaders, key solution providers, and
their peers for a visionary overview of leadership promise.
Read Tony Vellca's views on the Computerworld "Premier 100" IT Leaders Conference 2011 sessions:
Avery Dennison's CIO Richard Hoffman told this story at the Evanta
CIO Conference in Los Angeles. He approached his boss, the CEO,
and said, "I'm going to invest $20 million in social networking.
I know it will have a positive effect, but I don't yet know how
we will use it and how it will change things."
Imagine making that case 10 years ago. Or even five.
But today, I assert that as CIOs we have a mandate to dedicate a
percentage of our IT portfolios to projects with no pre-determined
business case. Not all – that would be crazy. But some.