Dear CIO: If you had to apply for your current job again today, would you still get hired? The shift from IT to CxO has already begun.
These days, virtually no story about IT appears without terms such as ‘digital transformation’ and ‘disruption’. The story you’re currently reading is no exception. Even on social media, whether it is Twitter or LinkedIn, there is a strong focus on the major impact of technology on almost every aspect of society.
At the end of last year, I visited the Gartner Symposium in Barcelona, where all the major tech developments were covered ‒ not only the latest trends in security and risk, IoT and AI, but also the role of innovation, the platform economy and the leadership and business culture that are needed in the new world.
Business becomes IT
At the symposium, the newest trends in tech were given considerable attention as were indeed changes at a human level. This is good because the human factor is something we often overlook in the midst of all this talk about technology. Mark Jeffries, a former stock broker at Merrill Lynch and currently a marketing consultant and frequent guest on news channels such as BBC News, NBC and Fox Business, said that we’ve all become salespeople – not excepting all the CIOs attending the event. Business problems are shifting to IT and this requires a new breed of people, plus a different business culture. In addition to developing a vision of disruption and digital transformation, leaders in IT should be able to sell their vision to the rest of the organization.
This brings us to the question: if you had to apply for your current job again today, would you still get hired? In other words, are you suitable as a professional who can innovate or are you just someone who keeps the lights on? This question obviously applies not only to the CIO, but also to everyone in every organization. It becomes even more pressing against the backdrop of the now raging ‘war for talent’, whereby companies compete to recruit (and retain) the right people. So, does your organization get the people it needs? And, just as important, is there a culture of change within the organization? If the answer to all these questions is ‘no’, alarm bells should be ringing.
To the business or out of business?
The shift from CIO to CxO has already begun. We are in the next phase of IT. CxOs in all organizations understand that if they can arrange an AirBnB or Uber within five minutes, they can also relate this experience to their own business issues. The last thing they need is an IT department that mainly functions as a halt to new digital initiatives and that is constantly worrying about whether these initiatives fit within the current IT infrastructure. In other words, there is a need for a ‘new CIO’ and new digital leaders. The current leadership in many organizations should be worried because if IT does not move towards the business side of the organization, the department will be “out of business” within a few years.
At the same time, there is also a task for the ‘business’ and the CxO. Whether it concerns HR, marketing, finance or risk, they all benefit from involving IT staff more in their initiatives. After all, business problems are increasingly becoming IT problems, which need IT solutions. Consider, for instance, the use of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) in the HR department for faster on- and offboarding of new personnel with all the associated steps. Other examples include the automation of customer data verification by the risk department, or the recording of process steps by banks and insurers in the context of compliancy. IT is par excellence the department that can help you achieve or even surpass business goals. If this potential is to be unlocked, networks should be cultivated more than ever. In this sense, we should all become better salespeople.
Discover more about Robotic Process Automation. Please get in touch with Hugo Herman de Groot.