If I had a month to play CIO, I could have some serious fun messing with innocent business users. Or, I might refer to myself as the ‘Overlord’ and force my whole Information Technology (IT) department to engage in daily live-action-role-playing battles in the office parking lot. That would boost morale, right? Or maybe I’d just sit in my office and binge-watch ‘Silicon Valley’ on HBO GO for the purpose of ‘topical research.’ Okay… maybe not. In all seriousness, though, here are the seven actions I would take if I had free reign over IT for the next month:
I would start out by taking a good hard look at how IT is perceived by the rest of the organization. Does IT come off as a cost-center that is out of touch with other lines of business? If so, I’d make it a priority to transform this perception by intertwining IT strategy with enterprise-wide business goals. Another part of this makeover would mean communicating IT performance in business-relevant language in order to more clearly link IT to shareholder and business value measures.
As part of my IT makeover, I would immediately lay down a clear vision that would strategically align IT goals with enterprise-wide objectives for the next few years. By analyzing the gaps between where we are now and where we want to be, I’d develop a roadmap that would bring IT leadership and business managers together into clearly-defined tactical cooperation.
With the recent data hacks in corporate America, it is crucial that IT prioritize security as a major responsibility, and, as CIO for a month, I would hire an independent third-party to do penetration testing and assess security practices in order to anticipate security issues and fix vulnerabilities before they posed a significant risk. Also, I would review training and procedures in order to make sure that all IT operations were following best practices and were extraordinarily secure.
I’d also review all the core services my IT department was responsible for alongside best practices research for both staff and system processes. Using IT Service Management (ITSM) strategy with an ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) framework, I would assess processes of delivery and improve performance across all services.
As CIO for a month, I would take it upon my team to manage and determine the value of vendor relationships and contracts. We would be able to look more broadly at our vendors and determine if there were services we would benefit from outsourcing at lower costs. I’d ask our vendors for feedback as well, since many work with multiple organizations and tend to have important insights on what works well and what can be improved.
Perhaps one of the most necessary changes I’d make would be to give business users a more operational role while shifting IT towards governance and control. It’s becoming all but impossible for IT to handle every operational task that involves data access, and self-service solutions that enable business users to do these tasks are the future. The latest SaaS technologies such as Tableau Software for reporting, Salesforce for CRM, NetSuite for ERP and Adeptia for onboarding and integrating with new customers enable this new paradigm. It’s essential, however, to maintain IT governance and control in order to to prevent risks associated with Shadow IT.
If I were CIO, I would do whatever it took to foster a culture of innovation and encourage thinking outside of the box. I would welcome personal and unique projects and ideas, and, in order to encourage development, I would create platforms for discussion of new ideas and technologies. I would even provide my team with time during the week to work on personal projects in order to stimulate creativity and innovation. Monthly hackathons are another great way for developers to work on interesting ideas and develop new solutions that may directly or indirectly benefit the organization.
Those are my ideas. How about yours? What would you do or implement as CIO for a month?