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Bridging the gap: 5 ways CIOs can translate IT for the C-Suite

Mao Gen Foo, Vice President, Asia, OpenText | Oct. 14, 2016
What should the CIO prioritise in order to ensure technology continues to deliver, despite the ongoing evolution of the C-suite relationships?

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

Singapore may be one of the most digitally advanced nations, but its CIOs are still challenged with relating their vision of for digital transformation to their C-level peers. It's true they are gaining greater power as businesses increasingly recognise the importance of technology: a recent research by BT showed 8 out of 10 CIOs in Singapore think they have become more central in the boardroom. The alignment is still not right though, as the same research also found that CIOs perceive their contribution to achieving company objectives as a key concern.

The challenge is combining the translation of a deep understanding of the technology deployed in the business, whilst making the case for digital transformation's strategic importance to the business, and ultimately being heard in the C-suite.

There is no simple route to better aligning the board with a digital agenda. But whilst on that journey, there are five priorities that should enable CIOs to make that route a little less problematic. What should the CIO prioritise in order to ensure technology continues to deliver, despite the ongoing evolution of the C-suite relationships?

1. Target risks and security

All the headlines about major data breaches at high-profile companies over the past few years have put IT security on more business leaders' agendas, and rightfully so. Every executive in every business needs to be aware of the damage that can be done to a company's reputation and bottom line if data is exposed and puts customers at risk. However, it is vital that these discussions are focused on the risks to the business or a security or data breach, as opposed to the technology required to minimise the risk. How likely is a breach that would require notifying investors? What are the potential reputational costs of such an attack? What protections can the IT department provide to prevent such risks and how much will they cost? Discussions around these areas are much more likely to engage the rest of the business, and add real strategic value to the organisation.

2. Counter hype with reality and education 

Executives not steeped daily in the realities of enterprise IT can develop unrealistic expectations about what tech can do for the business. To help the CEO and other C-suite members clearly understand the business benefits of IT investments, the CIO needs to demystify these views. The CIO needs to make it the real capabilities and limitations of 'hot' trends clear, such as the cloud or artificial intelligence - topics your C-Suite colleagues are likely to hear about from their own reading or family. The CIO should be helping the executive team separate reality from marketing hype, and then choosing the right solution.


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