Peter High, president and founder of Metis Strategy—a business and IT strategy firm, wrote an article in Forbes about his meeting with Gamiel Gran, of the venture capital firm Mayfield Fund, and a dozen other leading CIOs in the New York area.
Top CIO Priorities
The executives spoke about topics that excite them and ultimately landed on five major topics that are at the top of their minds:
- Driving innovation at scale
- Adapting to a multi-cloud world
- Making technology a board-level conversation (beyond security)
- Balancing cost savings while driving revenue
- Maintaining relentless customer focus
Driving Innovation at Scale
CIOs must create a culture of innovation within their organization. They must continue to transform people, processes, and technology as they work to enable more nimble organizations. To do so, they must shift toward adopting new technologies such as Cloud and microservices, increasing competence around data analytics (and data governance), and driving cultural change throughout the organization. CIOs must prepare their organizations and turn employees into continuous learners that can adapt to near-constant change. They need to create a culture that embraces new ideas and has a clear process for taking innovation from an idea and turning it into an investment.
Gamiel Gran of Mayfield Fund, who co-hosted this discussion with the CIOs, laid out three buckets to help innovate better. He calls them the “3 I’s of Corporate Innovation.”
- Ideation: Create an environment that accepts new ideas from both the inside and outside. Leadership from the top should both give attention to innovation and also set priorities.
- Incubation: Have a dedicated team that handles new ideas that come into the company. New ideas can be disruptive to current operations, so having a team that evaluates and tests ideas is a great way to foster them.
- Investment: Decide what level of investment makes the most sense to the business, and over what timeframe. It’s best to start small, but over time, new innovative solutions or technologies can have a meaningful impact with strategic funding.
Adapting to a Multi-Cloud World
During their discussion, the CIOs agreed that today’s workforce is in a multi-Cloud world, spanning public and private Cloud environments as well as on-premises systems. As we transition into the multi-Cloud world, CIOs are trying to figure out how to work with these new Cloud platforms and vendors. It’s important for them to figure out how to optimize their Cloud deployments to drive efficiency and control costs within their organizations.
CIOs must mandate design architectures that allow their companies to realize all of the benefits of the Cloud while maintaining sufficient governance. They also have to navigate the strengths and weaknesses of Cloud providers in order to create an architecture that works best for their firm. As this shift toward a multi-Cloud world continues, CIOs must also work with various parts of the enterprise to educate them about Cloud and optimize the Cloud footprint for both efficiency and financial benefit.
Making Technology a Board-Level Conversation
Several of the gathered CIOs spoke about the importance of tackling board-level concerns about avoiding Cloud lock-in, as well as general education around new technologies. Boards are taking a broader interest in technology but often don’t have the technical experience to understand how new solutions can strategically impact their company. It’s up to CIOs to step in and bridge the gap and translate the technology into business terms for the board.
Board members are starting to ask more questions about the latest technology and cybersecurity trends, which is a good sign of growing interest. However, they don’t always ask the probing questions about the technology itself and the cascading impact that new technology decisions will have on the company. CIOs can ask those important questions and translate the answers into business terms for the board. It is up to CIOs to change the mindset that IT is who you go to with system problems or security incidents and become more of a strategic partner on technology matters.
Balancing Cost Savings While Driving Revenue
For CIOs, driving revenue is a mandate, not an option. CIOs must juggle driving efficiency and cutting costs with spurring innovation and driving new revenue. One CIO in the discussion noted that his company’s revenue base was growing, but the cost base was increasing at the same rate. His company had to deliver cost savings and efficiencies while boosting productivity and driving margin expansion in order to remain competitive. Cost savings are important because they can fund future innovation that comes along in the multi-Cloud world full of emerging technologies.
Maintaining Relentless Customer Focus
The expectation for customer service has drastically changed in today’s world. Customers want things better, faster, and often with less human interaction. It’s up to CIOs to make sure that their company is keeping up with fast-changing customer wants and needs. Companies need to be constantly improving the services that they offer.
Customer service is becoming more personalized in order to engage and retain customers. It’s important to understand what the customer wants and shape your business model to meet those needs instead of forcing a business model that doesn’t work onto your customers. The possibilities to personalize and improve customer service are endless, and it is up to CIOs to guide their organizations to find the best solutions.
For even more priorities to consider, check out our article Top 10 Strategic CIO Priorities for 2019.
For more insight into the discussion between this group of CIOs and their priorities, check out the full article from Forbes, attached below.
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