Insights CIOs “Should” Have In 2018 – Part 1

Paul Lewis

Part 1 in a 2-part series. Read Part 2.

Recently, the CIO Knowledge editorial team at the Digitalist Magazine asked me to provide insights for the annual “predictions” blog for 2018. Upon consideration, my perspective was less about a prediction of trends, as you can read about those from any number of informed analysts and technology mega-vendors. In fewer than 100 words, I contemplated what insights CIOs (or any technology executive) “should” be considering in 2018: How they need to think about their own roles, how their team should evolve, and what they may be able to do about affecting positive change. Here’s the original quote:

“During 2018, the nature of the CIO’s job will change from the role of ‘delivery executive’ to that of ‘IT business executive,’ realigning the focus from project status and infrastructure uptime to delivering on the three business imperatives. These are: operational efficiency, new customer experiences, and diversified business models of the corporations’ digital transformation strategy. People development will also become the primary consideration for innovation in IoT, artificial intelligence (AI), and cloud, which are creating a necessity to upskill, re-skill, and replace expertise and experience across disciplines by utilizing platforms to access partner ecosystems of talent, technology, and information.”

I couldn’t agree more if I’d written it myself. Considering that I am an expert in IT’s menu of services, understand IT’s clientele, and the local IT competition, I must be right? Okay, maybe I’m just the smartest janitor at NASA, but you are already committed to reading the blog by now.

Refocus on business success

It’s possible (however unlikely) that I oversimplified the entire CIO insight. In the interest of elaborating on my brevity, let’s break it down:

“The nature of the CIO’s job will change from the role of “delivery executive” to that of “IT business executive:” Long gone are the days when the role of CIO was exclusive to IT concerns. We used to have IT budgets, with IT staff delivering on IT budgets for the value of IT. It was an ever-growing cost center that kept the CEO out of the newspaper with rigid policies, and implemented standards as if they were a stalwart government department. Up to now the CIO “delivered” projects, “delivered” applications, and “delivered” on promises of uptime, with very little consideration to the intricacies of the business model of the entire organization.

In 2018, CIOs should refocus their attention entirely to the holistic business success. The IT business executive considers the value proposition, customer relationships and segments, key business activities and assets, and specific partnerships and channels required to deliver on the business product or service. In 2018 CIOs should demand a seat at the business-decision-making table, as all of their output should be measured against financial growth and health of the company as a whole.


Reevaluate performance management mechanisms

Realigning the focus from project status and infrastructure uptime to delivering on the three business imperatives [of digital transformation]:” Dashboards that deliver on key performance indicators exclusive to the purview of technology teams are relatively simple to produce and make it even easier to achieve success. The KPIs in IT tend to be process- and project-centric. If you successfully adhere to these guidelines, and if your people successfully deliver on project tasks as estimated, everyone receives 100% of their short-term incentives. Unfortunately, the successful delivery of a project, or the uptime of a server, does not contribute to the success of the company in any meaningful way. They become simple checkmarks or “table stakes” to what value IT can actually provide.

In 2018, CIOs should reevaluate their performance management mechanism to measure individual contributors and teams by aligning to the digital transformation initiatives the company implements to compete in the demanding digital marketplace. Include IT’s impact on operational efficiencies (logistical), creating new customer experiences, and diversifying to include new business models. This approach subjects all resources to “business outcome” measurements and participation in the bottom line or double bottom-line growth in the organization, just like their internal customers do.

In my next blog, I’ll take a look at a few other “shoulds,” including people development and optimizing partner ecosystems.

For more on IT trends, see 2018 Predictions, Pt. 4: Emerging Digital Technologies Will Make An Impact On Business.

Paul Lewis

About Paul Lewis

Paul Lewis is the chief technology officer in Hitachi Vantara for the Americas, responsible for the leading technology trend mastery and evangelism, client executive advocacy, and external delivery of the Hitachi vision and strategy especially related to digital transformation and social innovation. Additionally, Paul contributes to field enablement of data intelligence and analytics; interprets and translates complex technology trends including cloud, mobility, governance, and information management; and represents the Americas region in the Global Technology Office, the Hitachi LTD R&D division. In his role of trusted advisor to the CIO community, Paul’s explicit goal is to ensure that clients’ problems are solved and opportunities realized. Paul can be found at his blog, on Twitter, and on LinkedIn.