Tag Archives: Transformation

Embrace transformation for the benefit of the business

Are you ready for the digital future and the ever-continuing flux that will constitute the role of the modern IT leader?

More than anything else, CIO Connect’s 2012 Horizons research of more than 200 technology executives shows the target for high-quality IT leaders in the digital age is getting broader and wider. As the executive responsible for technology, the CIO looking to take advantage of the leadership opportunity must embrace transformation for the benefit of the business.

IT leaders are used to change; in short, they have to be. The mechanics – the basic building blocks of the IT industry – change and flex almost continuously with time. Today’s fundamental business technology has always been tomorrow’s potential legacy system.

But decades of enterprise IT implementations mean constrictions associated with legacy technology have become an issue common to all businesses, regardless of sector or specialism. And the modern pace of change in the digital age could, from the point of view of the sceptic, serve to create more complexity.

CIOs who managed what seemed like the fast-paced transformation associated with distributed computing and electronic commerce, now find themselves confronted with lightning speed change. The confluence of mobile, consumer, cloud and social technologies means the defensible enterprise perimeter has become a nebulous concept.

Our Horizons research shows CIOs recognise employees now demand a free choice of mobile device, and use such tools to draw on enterprise information on-demand. Building a firewall and locking down access is no longer an option because technology, and the knowledge it enables, is being democratised.

Yet the pace of change is no reason to be scared. Savvy CIOs are embracing consumerisation and showing the business how technology can help engage with customers whose opinions were previously hidden. It is the CIO, rather than the marketing director or another c-level strategist, who must grasp the nettle and demonstrate how going digital improves the business.

Responding CIOs also recognise that the cloud, although in its infancy, could help the business to really use IT flexibly and to create an approach to technology that concentrates on value-added outcomes, rather than being constrained by the fears of legacy infrastructures.

Now is your opportunity to finally address the embedded perceptions of the IT department, where the technology team is viewed as practising a dark art that only acts to reduce the potential for change. Leadership in the digital age means the converse is now true and CIOs must show a business-enabled approach to IT that is agile and light-to-the-touch.

Your first step towards success – whether working as a change leader, digital designer or a shared services executive – is to grab the attention of the chief executive and to work with trusted partners to deliver set objectives that relate to specific business outcomes. Now, more than ever before, is your opportunity to change the business for the better.

The above column summarised CIO Connect’s 2012 Horizons survey and was included in the recently released edition (issue 37) of CIO Connect magazine

What CEOs expect to get from a top-performing CIO

What type of skills does the CEO want from his or her CIO? My latest feature for silicon.com draws on the experiences of a group of senior executives to discuss the leadership traits that will make a CIO stand out from their peers:

The starting point, says Jardine Lloyd Thompson CIO Ian Cohen, is to understand your personal attributes or strengths and those of your team. Rather than worrying about potential weaknesses, an outstanding leader will focus on their strengths – and those within their teams – and look to exploit them.

“We spend way too much time trying to turn people into something they are not and fix their weaknesses,” he says. “It’s complete nonsense to think that fixing something bad will create something great. If you take ‘bad’ and just invert it – you get ‘not bad’, which is light years away from ‘great’. Find the activities that strengthen you personally, and the people you lead, and look to do those activities more often.”

When it comes to personal capabilities, Cohen is well aware of his own strengths. He says he happens to be good at technology because of the chronology of his career and an employment path that has included senior IT positions at media giants Associated Newspapers and the Financial Times.

To read the full article, please click here.

Why there should be no such thing as an IT project

Silicon has just published my analysis piece which suggests there should be no such thing as an IT project. The article quotes a number of CIOs and a link to the full article can be found beneath the following introduction:

“IT projects never really work,” says Mike Day, CIO at fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger. That seems like negative talk from a technology chief but there is sound method in the apparent madness.

More technology chiefs are waking up to the need for IT projects to be sponsored by the business. In cost-constrained times, CIOs are trying to avoid driving into a technology cul-de-sac. So rather than simply implementing IT projects, many CIOs are aiming to understand what executives need from the outset and meet agreed outcomes.

“The best ideas are sponsored by the business,” says Day. “Technology is now so pervasive through the organisation; it’s end-to-end. The CIO has to communicate to the business what is possible and why.”

For the full feature, click here.

The LinkedIn Premier League of New Economy Job Titles

The nature of work has changed. Want proof? Search LinkedIn and see how many people choose to define their job role with what might previously have been seen as non-traditional, even esoteric, terms:

  1.    4,475,626 results for owner
  2.    3,677,739 results for consultant
  3.    1,911,106 results for specialist
  4.    537,068 results for advisor
  5.    469,201 results for founder
  6.    468,044 results for expert
  7.    405,901 results for freelance
  8.    398,420 results for contractor
  9.    365,215 results for writer
  10.    138,506 results for speaker
  11.    84,840 results for strategist
  12.    61,032 results for ambassador
  13.    50,013 results for thinker
  14.    45,848 results for visionary
  15.    42,614 results for guru
  16.    20,318 results for blogger
  17.    16,270 results for evangelist
  18.    4,582 results for entreprenuer
  19.    3,094 results for gatekeeper
  20.    1,637 results for futurist

Old favourites – like freelance and contractor – are still popular. At the start of the last decade, such descriptions were seen as being catch-all phrases for individuals operating at the fringes of the formal economy and providing an outsourced service to larger businesses.

Twenty years ago, futurologists predicted something called ‘the internet’ would allow us to all work flexibly. Now, in a new economy driven by collaborative technologies, freelancing has become the mainstream. A global economy of contractors is fast-developing, with individuals selling their expertise on-demand.

Old monikers – such as freelance and contractor – do not necessarily encapsulate the act of work. The result is a collection of meaningful/meaningless terms that are used to describe what people actually do, or would like to do.

I wonder how the table will develop as the economy changes? Feel free to suggest other esoteric descriptions.

Spring edition of CIO Connect magazine

I was on holiday last week, during which time the sparkling spring edition of CIO Connect magazine hit the desks of the UK’s key IT leaders. In the lead-up to the release of the magazine, I’ve been busy modifying the content to include more forward-looking elements.

The changes are represented in ‘Foresight’, a new introductory section to the magazine that identifies the business and technology issues that will impact the work of CIOs in the next year-or-so. In short, change in business IT is so rapid that there is little point having a discussion about the here and now. CIO priorities are always about helping the business to work smarter and the ‘Foresight’ section will help IT leaders as they attempt to establish a competitive edge.

There are several other subtle changes in the spring edition, too – including more boxes and summary points in the main features. The aim is to give time-precious CIOs as much information as quickly as possible. As ever, the edition includes a series of exclusive features:

  • Globalisation at Procter & Gamble – featuring Filippo Passerini, global CIO at Procter & Gamble, and Karen Winney, business services director for UK, Nordic and Ireland at Procter & Gamble
  • Innovation and transformation at ITV – featuring Richard Cross, group technology director at ITV
  • Equal opportunities in IT – featuring Intel CIO Diane Bryant, Scottish Government CIO Anne Moises and Christine Ashton, IM strategy and technology director at Transport for London

Finally, here are a list of the IT leaders and business experts that appear in the issue. As ever, thanks to all that contributed their time and thoughts:

  • Richard Cross, group technology director at ITV
  • Jon Inch, CIO at Christie’s
  • John Suffolk, Government CIO
  • Filippo Passerini, global CIO at Procter & Gamble
  • Karen Winney, business services director for UK, Nordic and Ireland at Procter & Gamble
  • Diane Bryant, CIO at Intel
  • Anne Moises, Scottish Government CIO
  • Christine Ashton, IM strategy and technology director at Transport for London
  • Tania Howarth, CIO at Birds Eye Iglo Group
  • Stephen Entwistle, financial director of McKeowns Solicitors
  • John Thorp, chairman of the VAL IT Steering Committee at the IT Governance Institute
  • David Woodgate, chief executive of the Institute of Financial Accountants
  • Robin Dargue, CIO at Royal Mail
  • Karl Deacon, CTO at Capgemini
  • Neil McGowan, IT director at JD Williams
  • Tim Mann, CIO at Skandia UK
  • Olivier Uytterhoeven, director of IT at Starwood Hotels
  • Nathan Marke, CTO at 2e2
  • Tony Eccleston, partner at Ernst & Young
  • Steve Pikett, head of IT at Rothschild
  • Paul Mockapetris, domain name system (DNS) inventor and chairman of Nominum
  • Martin Roesch, founder and CTO of Sourcefire
  • Professor Soumitra Dutta, Roland Berger Professor of business and technology at business school INSEAD
  • Rob Spencer, senior research fellow at Pfizer
  • Ray Johnston, group IT operations manager at Aspen Insurance UK Ltd
  • Euan Semple, social media consultant and former BBC technology chief
  • Richard Moross, chief executive and founder of online printing company Moo.com
  • Peter Hinssen, programme director for Realising Business Performance Through IT at the London Business  School
  • Dr Martin Clarke, director of general management programmes at the Cranfield School of Management
  • Ian Cohen, former CIO at Associated News and managing director of SimplyGreatConsulting.com
  • Ian Buchanan, former CIO at Alliance & Leicester
  • Baroness Eliza Manningham-Buller, former director general of MI5