How to balance the needs of the front and back offices

How to balance the needs of the front and back offices

Are you a chief infrastructure officer or a chief information officer? One of the most common complaints I hear from CIOs is that they are too swamped in operational issues to find the time to think about transforming the front office and truly supporting growth.


But the most influential CIOs I know – and who tend to feel the most fulfilled in their jobs – are masters of balancing priorities and freeing themselves up to concentrate on business strategy and innovation.

That is not to say that these digital leaders are able to neglect the functional side of being a CIO. Providing an effective, cost-efficient service must always be the starting point. After all, if the lights don’t stay on, you can forget the fun strategy-based stuff.

It is all about better management of these different parts of the job and unburdening yourself so that you can turn your eye to more creative projects. Here are a few tips I’ve taken from the digital leaders we’ve spoken to for our research:

  • Learn to delegate more effectively. Some of the leading CIOs say that they now spend just 5% of their time on back-office operations. To do so, they make a conscious choice not to micromanage projects, but rather focus on being more connected externally and on transformational projects. Not everyone will achieve such a balance, but it shows what can be achieved with the right approach.
  • Look for chances to innovate. Try to be a bit more proactive about finding opportunities to innovate. Even if you are in an organization where it is difficult to stray much from your infrastructure and operational responsibilities, these areas can provide opportunities for innovation too. So stay alert to such possibilities.
  • Assess where the cloud can help to free you up. Moving applications and infrastructure to the cloud can often dramatically cut the time – and money – spent on systems and infrastructure.
  • Use any operational savings to open up new ideas for the front office. As you work on streamlining the back office, try to direct some of the savings toward innovation in the front office. For instance, finding ways to squeeze your operation’s spending can help deliver savings that can be deployed into more exciting front-office trials.

What else are you doing to help minimize the “infrastructure” part out of your role as a CIO?


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