Chris J Powell

Changing the "I" in CIO

Lately I have been seeing more and more calls for the move to change the “I” in CIO to mean Innovation instead of Information.  In many ways this does make a lot of sense.  Since the beginning of the Great Recession in the late 2000’s I have heard many experts say that it will be the Information Technology Department that will lead the way out of the Financial Downturn.  The challenge that I hear for my clients is that the businesses they work for want more from them but are not willing to properly fund them so they are faced with higher expectations than ever, a higher workload (less people in the department) and much shorter turn around times on projects.

I firmly believe that the move for every IT Leader must start with a better understanding of the wants and needs of the business before there is any chance for the paradigm shift from Information to Innovation.  Touting an MBA as an IT Leader helps but if your focus is exclusively on the Business…there is less chance of rallying the troops who write the custom code, keep the servers powered up and well chilled and the Security Specialists who need to protect the ever growing mountain of unstructured data sitting there waiting to be taken.

The concept of adding a Chief Innovation Officer to the mix of C Level executives is not all that new. Coca Cola, AMD, Owens Corning, Dupont and many others have had one in place since 2010 or earlier but what I am seeing both in the Blogosphere as well as in my interactions with clients is the merging of the roles of Chief Marketing Officer and the Chief Information Officer.  I can think of a hand full of CIO’s that I work with that could take on this role quite easily as they are quite skilled at Brand Development and Customer Interaction but they are the exception…not the rule.

The future is coming and there is not much that we can do to change that.  Time will not take a time out and there are no do overs so is your current CIO the right person to be your new CIO???

I like the concept that I stumbled upon that makes the Chief Innovation Officer not a new or replacement role but an fundamental expectation for the all current C-Level Executives.  Over at there is an interesting article about the “CIO”.  I really liked how the article really has a nice balance of today and how the expectation should be shared through out the organization:

Whether you’re the president, CFO, or IT director, those in office should not be limited to traditional expectations of their roles. Rather, you want to evolve your leadership responsibilities to be a dynamic and intuitive presence at your company. Just as how corporations have abandoned hierarchical structures to become horizontal and more agile, it is the responsibility of leaders to create synergy in an organization.

Well…today marks the end of another week…in many ways I feel like I have gone 12 rounds with the Heavy Weight Champion of the World…but I also know that it all starts again in two days so best rest up…get prepared and move on!


Chris J Powell

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