One of the most important capabilities required by CIOs is having a clear understanding of the organization’s business strategy and then being able to translate that into the development of a logical technology roadmap.
In a constantly changing business environment, it’s critical for CIOs and the IT organization to have the agility to make changes to the technology blueprint. Still, that’s easier said than done, particularly for well-established enterprises that have layers of ingrained legacy systems and processes in place.
Sure, agility is a widespread aspiration among IT leaders. But what are some realistic and effective ways to achieve a high level of operational dexterity?
A good starting point is by conducting a thorough evaluation of the organization’s IT infrastructure and technological capabilities to help determine which resources are truly delivering value to the enterprise and which ones are placing a drag on operational dexterity.
For instance, is it difficult to capture and integrate data from across all areas of the business to enable organizational leaders and knowledge workers to identify and respond quickly to changing customer and market conditions? What are the pain points that prevent the dissemination of information across the enterprise? Does the IT organization currently have the full range of skills in place needed to meet the current and near-term future needs of business users?
Achieving an optimal fixed vs. variable IT cost equilibrium
In many cases, CIOs face steep challenges in addressing these types of issues due to striking imbalances between fixed and variable IT costs. For instance, it’s common for IT organizations to have a ratio of fixed (e.g. run the business) vs. variable (discretionary) IT costs at an 80-20 or, at best, a 70-30 split. The higher the percentage of fixed costs, the less capital that’s available to invest in technologies and initiatives that support the company’s business vision.
As one of our CIO Executive Leadership Summit speakers, Dr. Howard Rubin, CEO and Founder of Rubin Worldwide, and MIT CIST Associate and Gartner Senior Advisor has shared in past presentations, CIOs who are able to identify and act on opportunities to lower fixed IT costs (e.g. by transitioning premise-based systems to the cloud to lower both OpEx and CapEx) position themselves to lower fixed IT costs and increase discretionary spending for “grow-the-business”-type projects.
Meanwhile, savvy CIOs recognize the value of utilizing a flexible workforce through contingent labor – including a mix of FTEs, temporary, and contract IT professionals. By sourcing for certain types of IT skills on an as-needed basis (e.g. app development, app maintenance, UI/UX developers), CIOs are able to galvanize the skill sets needed to lay the foundation for the organization’s technology roadmap while sourcing for those skills in the most cost-effective way possible.
What are some other techniques that can be used to create the agility needed to develop a technology roadmap that can bend to ever-changing business needs? Please join the HMG Strategy network discussion to share your ideas.