We're living in highly-disruptive times. Massive geo-political shifts and digital disruption are prompting corporate executives to focus on speed-to-market and speed-to-innovation in today's highly-competitive marketplaces.
Heightened competitive pressures are also inspiring CIOs and business leaders to think, act, and lead differently in order to drive successful outcomes in the digital era.
"As a CIO, you have to begin to think and plan differently to help the CEO and the board figure out the battle plan," said Hunter Muller, President and CEO at HMG Strategy.
"To help the business to succeed, the CIO must be the change agent in the C-suite," said Chris Colla, VP & CIO at B&G Foods. Colla was one of several speakers who spoke about how the CIO's role is evolving in disruptive times at the 2018 New Jersey CIO Executive Leadership Summit which took place on May 2 in Whippany, N.J.
CIOs also must demonstrate courageous leadership in working with fellow members of the C-suite to drive transformational change. "If your executive team is focused on the next quarterly earnings call, are they likely to take risks and innovate," said Milos Topic, VP & CIO, St. Peter's University.
"With innovation, you need to be willing to take chances," said Sean Lennon, SVP & CIO at Allergan who was one of the keynote speakers at the New Jersey summit. "If you fail, make sure you learn from it, and pivot quickly."
There are a number of actionable steps that CIOs can take to drive innovation and help the organization gain a competitive edge. "CIOs have two things they need to focus on to enable innovation - the integration of IT with the business and the professional development of the IT staff," said Justin Lahullier, CIO at Delta Dental of New Jersey and Connecticut.
"To lead in disruptive times, we must embrace the values of the emerging workforce," added Vipul Nagrath, Global CIO at ADP who was also a keynote speaker at the New Jersey summit.
It's also part of the CIO's role to inspire IT staffers. "I tell my IT team members that they must have an emotional attachment to their work in order to generate the outcomes we're looking to achieve," Nagrath added.
It's imperative for CIOs to obtain a variety of viewpoints to help identify and act on new business opportunities. "CIOs need to look both inside and outside the organization to gain different perspectives for driving innovation," said Hugo Fueglein, Managing Director, CIO/IT Practice at Diversified Search.
Still, the success of the digital enterprise doesn't fall solely on the shoulders of the CIO. "Digital business will require business people who understand technology," said Georgia Papathomas, SVP & Global Head Data Sciences at Johnson & Johnson.
The insights shared by top technology leaders such as Papathomas helped make the New Jersey summit enlightening and actionable for many attendees. "The event provided great opportunities for networking and fostering an exchange of experiences and ideas," said Gene Barskiy, Head of IT at Fisk Alloy and SIM New Jersey Chapter President.
For instance, John Repko, CIO at Johnson Controls, shared a four-point plan for being a successful CIO - "Keep your cost of operations as low as possible; education constituents on risk' provide executives context behind business cases; and structure business change for success."
To learn about other top-tier executive speakers at future HMG Strategy Executive Leadership Summits, click here.