InformationWeek editor Chris Murphy recently wrote an article titled 4 Elite CIOs Share Lessons about a panel discussion with CIOs from Fortune 200 companies.
There was lots of fascinating content, but one topic that caught my eye was how CIOs can now talk about technology. The point he was making is that only a few years ago the CIO had to avoid mentioning the technology while talking about how they could help meet the business goals. The world has moved on and business users are now interested in talking about technology.
When I looked at the specific examples quoted, it was very clear that these were CIOs who talked about technology AND business outcomes. There is no point in going to the business to talk about technology simply because the technology is interesting; it has to be able to solve real business problems. One example quoted in the InformationWeek article was:
“Johnson Controls CIO Colin Boyd described his teams' work on digital screens to put in the automotive aisle of retail stores, so people can easily look up which car battery they need. The business need? About half of returns are due to buying the wrong battery.”
I think that this fits very neatly with the research I discussed in my last blog 6 steps to plan and prioritize IT investments. This showed that investment in IT can result in significant revenue growth, but there is no evidence that IT can improve profitability through operating cost reduction.
The challenge for most organizations is to identify what technology investments can lead to business growth, and the way to do that is to really understand the business. You need to ask questions like:
- What are the vision, mission, goals and aspirations of the business?
- Where are there significant growth opportunities for the business?
- What are the key business issues and drivers?
- What keeps senior management awake at night?
- What business processes are causing problems?
- Where does the business have significant risk?
When the CIO really understands these issues, they can use their knowledge of technology and the IT industry to come up with ideas that might help to create business growth. Only when the CIO has identified how technology can solve real business problems is it cool for them to talk technology to the business.
Learn more about HP Consulting Services and how HP can help you shift your focus from operation to innovation.
If you want ideas about how to start thinking strategically, then read some of my other blogs:
- Using strategic service management to help create value for your customers
- IT strategy: 4 things you can learn from the U.S. government (yes, the U.S. government)
- IT Strategy: 3 more things you can learn from the U.S. Government
- 3 Steps an IT manager should take to earn their seat on the board
- Prioritizing time to get started on strategic planning
- Don’t mistake continual service improvement for a mature IT strategy
- 6 steps to plan and prioritize IT investments
For more info about me and what I can do for your organization, see my profile on our Technology Services Experts page.
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