Elevating the Role of the CIO – Part 2 of 2

In Part 1 of this article, we discussed the requirement for a management system to assist CIO’s with generating more value. We teed up the idea of how a CIO can improve their relationship with their Board of Directors by managing technology as a business.

There is significant thought leadership originating from a group call the Technology Business Management Council (www.tbmcouncil.org) regarding these same concerns. What is a CIO’s management system and how can they implement something that is transferable from one industry to another so their peers and board might more easily grasp their world?

As a reference, check out the Technology Business Management Framework below.


This framework provides a consistent language to communicate the world of technology in business terms that are industry agnostic. CIO’s are dealing with these challenges on a daily basis, and they are all implementing management systems to plan, monitor, and preside over these concepts. Imagine if each CIO were able to articulate their management system and approach to adding value using this framework? If they did, they might be closer to the CFO and Chief Counsel role standards described in PArt 1 of this article.

Further, if CIO’s were able to manage, communicate, and deliver using this standard framework, I suggest that they would change the dialog they have with their boards of directors. Think about the questions that Boards ask their CIOs. They include but are not limited to the following:

  • How are you investing in the business to create new and unique value = Innovate to Grow & Compete
  • What are you doing to control operating costs = Optimize Your Cost for Performance
  • How are you addressing risks like cybersecurity? = Transform by Enabling Agility
  • How do you compare to your peers and competitors? = Understand and Benchmark Your True Cost and Performance.
  • What is your sourcing strategy? = Position to Manage Your Supply and Demand
  • How are you improving your people? = Drive A Performance Based Culture

The framework is comprehensive enough that it is applicable to any size company in any industry in any country at any point in the life-cycle of a business (early adopters, plateau, or decline). It demystifies the business of technology using common terms understandable by multiple layers in a company from entry level through board level.

To truly explore the value of this framework a more detailed discussion regarding the decomposition of these framework elements into a service catalog and standard costs elements is needed. And, that’s exactly where the TBM Council is headed, per a recent article that can be found here.

Consider this provocative proposal: by embracing a framework like this, and establishing a management system (e.g. service catalog, cost model, etc.) under it, you will position yourself to improve your relationship with your board of directors.

The conversation has just begun! More details, perspectives and thought leadership is coming. To join the discussion, visit the TBM Council and get in the game!

Elevating the role of the CIO – Part 1 of 2

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What is Your Management System – Wired Magazine

Have you ever wondered how an organization adds new value and manages their business? How does a management team come together and exert their will on an organization so their commitment to the Board is achieved? How do they deliver increased revenue, launch new products, lower operating costs, integrate new sales channels, improve customer service, innovative solutions that create competitive advantage?

For a publicly held company, we see the financial results of these efforts via annual reports, quarterly filings, and the classic measure of stock valuation. We measure the delivery of incremental value long after it has been created within the company. So, how does the management team build the new value? There are many actions and decisions required to build a new value chain (e.g. agree on product design, service offerings, market entry strategies, etc.). The value opportunity is unveiled when the product, sales channel, or new value is deployed to the public. Often there are months, even years of work that leads up to the new creation of value. The value is created minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, and ultimately, month by month.

In the area of value creation where technology is a key driver, how does a CIO and their team contribute to this value? How do they manage their business?

Wired Magazine recently published an article that explores this question in greater detail and offers a challenge to the CIO’s of companies to build a more standardized management system. The article is available here.

In summary, the role of the CIO must mature in the coming months and years to create a more consistent and transferable management system for their companies. CIO’s need to manage technology like a business. In doing so, they will elevate themselves amongst their peers and in turn create more customer, competitive, employee, and shareholder (CCES) value.

In part 2 of this article, we’ll explore how CIO’s can unlock their relationship with their board of directors and up-level their positional ability to generate CCES value.

It’s Time to Get in the Game

It’s Time for CIOs to Get in the Game CIO.com.

Are you in the game or on the sidelines? In a recent article on CIO.com, it is suggested that its time for CIO’s to get in the game. while I couldn’t agree more, I would encourage you to take this article one step further.

If you find yourself wanting to get in the game now, I suggest that you are significantly behind the curve. For how many years has the concept of transformation via the CIO role been around? This is not a new concept, rather a concept that is rising in importance and possibility due to the level of disruption enabled by technology…think “commercialization of IT” as an example.

So, lets presume you are behind the curve. Where do you start? How do you start? I recently fielded questions like this at the PhillyETE conference. Some food for thought:

  • Follow the pain – What are the top 3-5 problems in the business? Find a sponsor to partner with and go solve for one of them, then make it a poster child for the business value you can drive as a CIO. to help identify the pain points, think of the following areas of your enterprise: revenue, operations, client perspective, and competitive position. Surely, there are some low hanging fruit to address in these contexts.
  • Attack the white space – To avoid turf battles and resistance to your delivery of business value, find areas of the company where there is no business model, or little risk. In Adam Hartung’s book Create Marketplace Disruption: How to Stay Ahead of the Competition, he discusses this concept in detail. My simple interpretation is “white space = unexplored opportunities” in your enterprise. For example, find areas of the business where there is no risk to the existing revenue streams and drive value.
  • Innovate, Transform, Lights-On – Chances are you have projects that are transforming your company, and you are undoubtedly running systems to keep the lights on. However, what are you doing to innovate? Framing your activities within these constructs can help you focus on the innovation part. What innovations could be valued by your company? How is your budget allocated across these three areas? Can you find ways to reduce your “lights-on” spend to fund some innovation?

CIO.com presents a great topic that is timely given the current state of the CIO. Take the discussion a step further, get off the sidelines, and get in the game!

The New New CIO Role: Big Changes Ahead

The New New CIO Role: Big Changes Ahead – CIO.com.

In a recent discussion with a previous client of mine and now friend, I was challenged as to why I view the role of CIO as exciting. The attached article does a good job of answering my friend Jim’s question. Incidentally, you can read Jim’s musings on his blog at O’Reilly Radar.

What’s not to love about being on the border between the business and IT, or shall I say the border between France and Germany circa 1944? That would be brutal. 1970 might be a little more tolerable. 2010 even more so. This analogy is not meant to compare the brutalities of war with our current business environment, rather this conscious exaggeration via analogy hopefully crystallizes the concept of being on a border between two different cultures. I told Jim “some people are just drawn to chaos!” with big smile on my face like the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland. If you enjoy creating order out of chaos, if you enjoy bringing structure to an unstructured challenge, and you can translate business and technology, then the CIO role is something you should consider.

My favorite insights from this article:

  • There are two kinds of CIOs: operational and strategic. Which one plays to your sweet-spot?
  • On tomorrow’s CIOs…the future CIOs have to be excellent in negotiating; spend all their time with the business; be a visionary; be a “tweener” – someone who always operated between the business and IT. How do you map into this description?
  • A CIO who is transforming their business needs to concentrate on the four P’s: Perception, Profile, Participation and Performance. Rate yourself in these areas.
  • CIO = Chief Transformation Officer What have YOU transformed?
  • And they have to operate or deliver. Think…DELIVERY is job 1! Don’t forget the daily blocking and tackling.

I recently came across another interesting corroborating perspective on the CIO role as a Chief Insight Officer. I found this very “insightful”.

At the end of the day, technology is disrupting everything. We look back on history and refer to the industrial era, and reflect on the quantity of change that period delivered. We are now working within the “knowledge” era where the knowledge you gain today, might be obsolete in a matter of months based on the pace of change. We are constantly learning and displacing old tools or techniques with new ones to maintain our profit margins and compete with larger and smaller competition. All along, the CIO is in the eye of the storm, and the person who can strategically create order from chaos while operating an environment of increasing complexity and building effective relationships across the business and IT leadership will make a measurable difference to a company’s bottom line.

CIO Perspectives on Business Change

I attended a CIO Perspectives conference in Philadelphia this morning. It was a great session with a lot of relevant content. Definitely worth the investment in time.

The keynote speaker was a CIO who is leading a business transformation for a pharmaceutical distribution company using an ERP implementation as the technology driver. His discussion focused on three key elements critical for transformation, and I want to share that I emphatically agree. While there are certainly other factors in a business transformation, these three are most applicable to the CIO:

1) IT Strategy – providing multiple views of the architecture, platforms, tools, and technologies that are needed to support the business strategy.
2) IT Governance – prioritizing projects, making decisions and living with the consequences of the decisions.
3) Relationships – trust, candor, and discussing the “undiscussables”.

He emphasized relationships as a fundamental component of a transformation because it enables the the first two elements to be effective.

Here is my summary of other key concepts for your consideration in your own change efforts:

  • If you struggle to get a busines strategy to feed the IT strategy, create one yourself. IT has a great perspective of your company.
  • Commit to the integrity of the IT governance process. Don’t make side deals.
  • In order to have any transparency, you need to be able to define what everyone does on a daily basis. Put a time reporting system in. Without it, you are stuck in emotions and hallway sound bytes.
  • Trust is critical. Do you have it? Do you want it? Do you want it like you have never wanted anything else? You need to.
  • Listen without judgement.
  • Decide to make relationships important. Start with your most troubled relationship, turn it around, and then move on to others.
    Change fails because of relationships.
  • I would rather have an average strategy with flawless execution, than a flawless strategy with average execution. You can and will always modify your strategy in our current environments.