Top Key Skills Needed For Today’s CIOs (Part 1)

In today’s business landscape CEOs are increasingly focused on top line revenue growth and bottom line earnings along with increased pressure to execute at speed and scale. Business executives are now looking to their CIOs to drive growth and competitive advantage.

To succeed and outperform in this environment, today’s CIO need a number of unique skills:-

  1. Visionary & Strategic Leadership
  2. Building High Performing Teams that are lean, agile and highly focused
  3. Operational & Technical Excellence
  4. Detailed Product Leadership

In the first of a series of posts on key skills for today’s CIOs, we discuss Visionary & Strategic Leadership.

1. Visionary & Strategic Leadership
From talking with many CEOs, all organisations have the same challenges. Their capabilities overlap through growth and acquisition resulting in process / service duplication driving up costs.  In addition, after successive waves of cost rationalisation, companies are struggling to find the next big efficiency.

Companies are seeking CIOs that can deliver competitive advantage through increased business alignment, strategic innovation along with increased business skills.

Increase Business Alignment
For organisations to succeed in today’s market place, the focus needs to be on Intelligent Growth comprising of:

(i) Customer experience innovation

(ii) Permanent cost & capital management

(iii) Streamline operations and increase organisation’s effectiveness

Technology and business strategy needs to be aligned and woven together to meet both the short term and longer term objectives of the business.

Strategist and Innovator
As a strategist and innovator, CIOs have carte blanche authority to develop processes, markets, departments and structures to generate competitive advantage. The CIOs that are visionaries and risk takers will benefit most from current opportunities.

CIOs will need to look outside of the normal technology domain and focus on products, markets and business models.

Several key areas include cost and complexity reduction, modernisation of non critical IT functions along with product and process simplification to drive improved real time decisions.

Business Skills
Businesses are increasingly looking to their CIO to drive growth and competitive advantage. Technology leaders are required to possess business skill sets in order to transform the technology organisation and change the technology / business industry value chain.

This can be achieved through inspired relationships by creating new and stronger connections with end customers and key stakeholders in the value chain.

CIOs will need to communicate IT performance in business relevant language using investment terminology to define the value contribution to deliver a concrete proposition for the organisation.

In today’s demanding landscape, CIOs need to be bolder, leaner and more focused.  Only by increasing business alignment and driving strategic innovation, coupled with new business skillsets, can they exploit leaner, more focused opportunities up and down the value chain.

In my next post I will look at high performing teams for a lean, agile and highly focused technology organisation. For now, take the time to review the visionary & strategic leadership aptitude for your own organisation and let me know your comments.

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