No one disputes that it’s important to align business and technology, but a new book says it’s time to realize that IT is the business no matter the industry -- and that’s why CIOs are so critical to an organization’s success.
Having your department compared to the DMV isn’t very flattering, but that’s what is happening to many IT departments.
That’s because many CIOs are focused on the technology and they don’t really care about the user experience, hence the DMV reference.
The comparison is made in a new book, “The Big Shift in IT Leadership,” by author Hunter Muller, who contends that many CIOs remain focused inward, only concerned with technology. But a small portion of CIOs “see the writing on the wall,” and know they need to “play the game at a higher level” by shifting their focus outward to provide a stellar customer experience, he says.
While Muller acknowledges that undertaking a more customer-centric focus is a “huge plate shift” for CIOs, it is one that must take place not only for a CIO’s own career trajectory, but also for the health of their company.
“CIOs need to be ready to disrupt, facilitate and innovate,” Muller says. “They need to be recruiting, retaining and growing future IT talent. They need to communicate better. They need be passionate about the business – fearless and tenacious.”
The best CIOs, he says, know that results beat out technology. Having great technology doesn’t mean much if customers aren’t having a good user experience, because they will leave for the competition, he says.
“Speeds and feeds are fine, but having great metrics won’t pay the bills,” Muller says. “Today’s businesses focus on delighting customers, because that is how you make the most money.”
While embracing such new challenges may be daunting for some CIOs, Muller notes that “the really neat thing about CIOs is that they have total visibility across the organization.” He explains that with the access, CIOs have a golden opportunity to help develop innovative strategies and spur collaborations that will have a big impact on the organization’s overall success.
“Today, IT really matters. It matters to the top line and to the bottom line. When IT has a bad day, the company has a bad day. When IT is on a roll, the company is on a roll,” Muller says.
In Muller’s book, he makes several suggestions for those CIOs who are ready to make the ‘big shift” to key leadership within an organization. Among them:
Finally, CIOs must master the art of telling a story that is compelling to others in the organization. In other words, they must be able to consistently tell how their strategy will move the organization forward and how it is attainable. Without it, Muller says, IT will become as highly regarded as the DMV.