For CIOs, gaining a seat at the table among other C-level executives isn’t a destination: it’s a journey. Securing a place among the executive team that makes the major strategic decisions for the enterprise is an enormous accomplishment for any IT leader.
But just like any member of the senior management team, the CIO needs to continue to demonstrate why their leadership and vision is needed in order for the organization to succeed. Otherwise, their seat at the table can easily be withdrawn.
A critical requirement for the CIO to keep a seat at the table is by continually demonstrating his or her value. This includes how the IT department is perceived by the enterprise.
According to IDC, more than half (54%) of business leaders outside of IT view the IT department as an obstacle that must be overcome in order to get things done. Many business leaders are frustrated with the amount of time it takes for application deployments and other IT/business initiatives to snake their way through the IT project backlog. It’s these types of perceptions that have led business unit and functional leaders to become more involved in rogue IT activities.
The good news is that there are steps that CIOs can take to turn the perception bias around. A good starting point is by talking to trusted business leaders as well as employees and managers outside of the IT organization to get multi-dimensional perspectives on how the IT organization is viewed. Is the IT organization viewed as an obstacle for getting things done? If so, why? And what recommendations would they offer for changing the way things are done?
In many cases, the CIO and director of IT architecture review potential IT/business projects to determine whether a proposed system will meet the organization’s architectural standards. While this type of approach makes perfect sense to IT leaders to help support connectivity and communications, most business leaders aren’t familiar with the tenets of IT architecture and can become frustrated by the review process.
Describing in layman’s terms the importance of enterprise architecture is a good first step. But this also represents an opportunity for CIOs to think outside of the box and come up with new approaches for streamlining project implementation processes so that the IT organization can be viewed as an enabler and not as a barrier.
Of course, keeping a seat at the table is also about delivering continuous value – both at the strategic planning level as well as the value that’s being delivered to the enterprise. This includes developing a deep understanding of customer and market trends and being able to offer fresh ideas for delivering on customer expectations and transforming the business.
As Matthew Joe, VP & North American Chief Technology Innovation Officer at Avanade shared in a recent HMG Strategy video, it’s about opening your own perspective as a CIO to what’s happening in the business world and then applying that in your role as a trusted advisor.
“Stepping out and looking at your consumer life – looking at your kids, looking at how your parents are adopting technology, looking at what we can learn from healthcare or life sciences and natural resources and then bringing that over to financial services,” said Joe. “Just being open and seeing what’s going on – that’s a great way to understand the trends.”