What Advice Would You Give Your CIO?

The CIO table

CIOs should be key members of any business C-team, but is yours doing what you expect them too? During the run up to 2016 itSMF UK event we asked a number of the presenters a question: What would be your number one piece of advice for a CIO? This blog shares the responses to the question from:

  • Roy Atkinson, Senior Writer and Analyst, HDI (blog)
  • Barry Corless, Business Development Director, Global Knowledge UK
  • James Finister, Global ITSM Strategist, Tata Consultancy Services (blog)
  • Mike Hall, Tech Manager Employee Enablement, Skyscanner
  • Kevin Holland, SIAM Consultant (blog)
  • Ivor Macfarlane, ITSM Training and Consultancy, MacfPartners
  • Stephen Mann, Principal Analyst, ITSM.tools (blog)
  • Tony Price, Director WW IT4IT Strategic Consulting, HPE Software Services
  • Stuart Rance, ITSM and Information Security Consultant, Optimal Service Management
  • Chris Rydings, CIO, Axios Systems (blog)
  • Mark Smalley, The IT Paradigmologist (blog)

Many of these people also wrote a pre-event blog about their itSMF sessions, which are linked to above (not all relate to CIO advice, though).

What would be your number one piece of advice for a CIO?

Interestingly, the CIO advice responses were varied, probably more varied than you would expect.

Roy: Stop believing that there are any “silver bullets” for CIOs or that saying you’re adopting a particular framework or methodology is going to “fix everything.” Everything won’t ever be fixed; concentrate on what must be fixed (and don’t let the first dominate, or you won’t have time for the second). Realize that new efforts require new skills, new goals, and new resources. Remember that the reasons IT exists are to serve people and produce business results.

Barry: A CIO should understand what good looks like from a rounded capability perspective. In other words, a picture of the IT capability to deliver on objectives. Crucially, view that capability holistically particularly when prioritizing investment. Your ability to reach your goals is a combination of the people, governance, technology, and the relationships your organization requires to execute its business model or fulfill its mission. Make sure your IT department doesn’t concentrate on developing any single aspect of their capability in isolation at the expense of others.

James: With the combination of digital transformation and the increasing cadence of change, the onus is on the CIO to radically change the structure of the IT department to eliminate the silos and focus on customer engagement.

Mike: Don’t try to build a dozen Death Stars.  Start small, iterate, and build on validated learning with as many of your projects as possible.

Kevin: Get your development, operations, infrastructure, networks, and IT service management (ITSM) communities truly working together; mutually understanding what’s good from their respective disciplines; and jointly designing and running a new operating model that focuses on the efficient delivery of working solutions to the customer by teams who are fully accountable.

Ivor: Remember what CIO is an acronym for, there’s no mention of technology. Look towards the technology and what it can offer, but view it from a business perspective. Realize you are a player in multiple teams – the IT department and the senior management team at least. It might be a hard balancing act, but then look how much they pay you, so they think you can do it.

Stephen: Get their people focused on customer experience (CX) both inside and outside the company. Customers and employees will demand better CX from the CIO and their team, plus their services, and to avoid it will be the road to irrelevancy.

Tony: Make sure your focus as a CIO is directed to the value that IT will bring to the business (quantifiable) expressed in terms that the business understands (and definitely not in IT jargon).

Stuart: A CIO should get their IT team to study the nine guiding principles of ITIL practitioner, and use them to guide their decisions. If you “Focus on value,” “Design for experience,” “Start where you are,” “Work holistically,” “Progress iteratively,” “Observe directly,” “Be transparent,” “Collaborate,” and “Keep it simple” then you will deliver IT services that really do meet the needs of your customers.

Chris: Align with the company’s vision and their top objectives and deliver this in a way that is innovative, lasting, and sustainable. In Deloitte’s annual CIO report it highlights the mistake far too many CIOs make in that they acknowledge that innovation is a key priority but then assign only a fraction of their budget to deliver it!

Mark: Think in terms of co-creation of value together with business partners and reposition the IT-function from order-taker to co-worker within the various lines of business.

So what do you think of these CIO advice points? What do you agree with and disagree with? What would you add? I’d love to know, so please leave me a comment below.

Sophie Danby

Sophie is a freelance ITSM marketing consultant, helping ITSM solution vendors to develop and implement effective marketing strategies.

She covers both traditional areas of marketing (such as advertising, trade shows, and events) and digital marketing (such as video, social media, and email marketing). She is also a trained editor.

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