Modern IT leaders are under siege. CIOs are expected to keep systems up and running, while also keeping track of fast-changing business demands and the technologies that can help improve organisational effectiveness. My latest feature for Computer Weekly analyses the ways in which CIOs can develop an IT strategy that delivers real change and lasting business benefits in the digital age:
Former CIO turned digital advisor Ian Cox says in the article that disruption usually happens in industries that have not seen any major change in business models, products and services for prolonged periods. One approach that some CIOs have taken is to develop a digital strategy that is separate to the firm’s overall approach to IT. But Cox is adamant than no separation should exist:
“What every organisation needs is a single business strategy, and the CIO should take part to provoke debate and extend capabilities. The modern CIO should be a person who knows what’s coming in terms of IT and the startup community.”
CIOs, then, need to be creative. But say that someone in your firm comes up with a great idea – is your first thought to keep the intellectual property confined within the enterprise firewall, or would you rather share those ideas with external partners, peers, and even competitors?
Some experts believe the closed nature of how most organisations deal with innovation means business and society at large are missing out on benefits that could inspire growth. My latest feature for ZDNet suggests that one way to encourage a more open approach to creativity is through horizontal innovation, which involves the systematic transfer of knowledge and technology from one sector to another.
Gordon Attenborough, head of sectors at the IET, says business leaders in all sectors must understand the importance of horizontal innovation. He says good examples of idea sharing can be seen in the healthcare and aerospace industries. Other technologists should use their awareness to solve some of the greatest conundrums in business:
“There are solutions to your challenges already out there, irrespective of the discipline. Those challenges cover the broad span of B2B and B2C issues – we just need to makes sure that cross-sector conversations take place. Horizontal innovation is a low cost way to create business solutions that can have a very big impact.”
Elsewhere, I’ve just put the finishing touch to an article on cloud computing for a Raconteur supplement in The Sunday Times, and I’m just completing an article for The Register on the evolving nature of the IT leadership role.
As ever, I’m always keen to hear from people who want to contribute to IT, business and leadership features, so just drop me a line if you’d like to get involved at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. It’s always good to hear from independent experts who have a new take on strategy and innovation, particularly when it comes to leading-edge technology.