Chief collaboration officer: CIOs can expand their role to become champions for growth

Brainstorming in an officeDigital has not always been kind to the CIO.

In fact, you could argue that the traditional role of the CIO — leadership of enterprise infrastructure — has been diluted by digital technologies.

New technologies, such as cloud computing and software as a service, are often in the hands of service providers or the end customer. With the consumerization of IT, employees can explore new technologies away from the oversight and control of the IT function.

But as digital takes away with one hand, it gives with the other. In this digital age, there is a huge opportunity for CIOs to expand their remit beyond their key responsibility for keeping the enterprise lights on.

The CIO can become a growth champion and value creator by helping the organization monetize big data.

Profitable growth through data

According to Harvard Business Review, data-driven companies are 5% more productive and 6% more profitable than their competitors. A 2014 study produced by International Data Group (IDG) — a US technology, media and research company — found that 70% of enterprise organizations have either deployed or are planning to deploy big data-related projects and programs.

Big data is critical for developing new products, services and revenue streams. And, among other things, big data can also increase marketing ROI through better targeting.

But the enterprise will only be able to tap into that growth potential if it has the best functional and technical infrastructure in place. This is where the CIO comes in.

CIOs need to work closely with colleagues across the functions to deliver the IT infrastructure the business needs. By doing so, CIOs have the opportunity to turn themselves into their firms’: chief collaboration officer (CCO) — in practice, if not in title.

So how can CIOs ensure they grow into this expanded role?

  • Collaborate with peers. CIOs need to collaborate with fellow executives to design and deliver major data analytics initiatives. They must coordinate the strategic planning of projects, ensuring that investment is not fragmented across the business. CIOs in organizations that appoint a chief data officer (CDO) will need to forge a close partnership, either as the CDO’s peer or line manager.
  • Increase the speed of action. In the digital age, change comes at increasing velocity. CIOs need to ensure the IT function has the operating model to meet the need for speed.
  • Develop the IT function’s customer-service mindset. To make the most of data analytics, the IT function will need to partner effectively with the marketing team to develop solutions together. A strong CMO-CIO relationship is particularly important.
  • Recruit the right talent. The CIO needs to hire people with both technical expertise and a strong grounding in wider business issues. For organizations seeking data analytics success, it will be critical to recruit architects who can pull and structure data.

The emergence of some digital trends, such as bring your own device (BYOD), has affected the CIO’s traditional authority. But a more fundamental trend — the data analytics revolution — provides an exciting opportunity for CIOs to expand their role as an enterprise growth champion.


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