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CIOs: 5 issues to win your CEO's attention

Chris Curran, PwC Diamond Advisory Services | March 7, 2011
Some CIOs complain that IT department performance and project status dominate discussions with the CEO. If you want to change the conversation to IT's role in innovation and strategy, consider these five issues, advises Chris Curran.

FRAMINGHAM, 7 MARCH 2011 - Most CIOs I know have their hearts and minds in the right place. They recognize that they need to be accountable for more than a well-run IT shop. They also aspire to help the company use information to drive innovation and strategic advantage that fulfills the CEO's vision. Here are five issues that CIOs can discuss to capture the CEO's attention and raise the level of discourse to a more strategic level.

1. Imagine if everything was mobile. If every key function and interaction across the company's value chain was able to operate anytime, anywhere, what would be the impact on your customers and your business? What if your competitors got there first? Companies today have unprecedented opportunities to capture a greater share of customers' wallets: wire transfers, account maintenance, proximity payments, subscriptions, digital content, and location-specific advertising are just a few of the opportunities. Inventory management, logistics, risk management and even talent management may have mobile potential. Take some time to look across your business for opportunities to add mobility to your operations and assess the potential impact. Then help your CEO imagine the possibilities.

2. Let's take enterprise IT funding off the table. The battles about which departments will contribute budget to help fund enterprise or multi-business unit IT functions have killed many worthwhile innovative IT initiatives. Time, trust and goodwill invested by all parties in the upfront planning for strategic initiatives is squandered on debates about who will pay for them. That's understandable, particularly when cross-function investments run counter to departmental performance metrics. Propose creating a separate funding source for those IT initiatives that cross organizational lines.

3. Mobilization will be the difference between success and failure. Our Digital IQ research consistently finds that the firms with the strongest financial performance not only had strong alignment among the business and IT leadership, but also had strong mobilization capabilities. That means anticipating the change implications for different business functions, securing buy-in at the top and ongoing change management leadership. It requires fully understanding the details of the strategy and having a clear roadmap for designing and executing that strategy. We find that the CIOs who help create innovation, increase revenue, and help deliver superior customer service have more influence within their company; they have the authority to mobilize. Have a conversation with the CEO about earning his or her full support in mobilizing the resources, support and processes required to undertake a strategic initiative—well before the spending starts.

 

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