To become true agents of transformation, today’s business leaders (CIO) will not only need to take a closer look at the projects and the ways that they fit within the business portfolio, but they’ll also need to remain nimble enough to constantly evaluate both projects and portfolio to ensure alignment with overall business objectives.
In order to do so, C-suites will need to work closely with their enterprise program management office (EPMO) to develop mechanisms for monitoring and measuring the impact of internal and external changes in relation to the current portfolio. Senior executives will want to be equally instrumental in helping direct their EPMO in managing these changes in a way that allows for the right level of flexibility for shifting focus in a timely manner as needed.
Working with the EPMO to identify not only where changes are likely to occur but also exactly how they will impact the organization as a whole is key; moreover, deciphering how to properly manage the change can is also paramount.
To successfully mitigate risks, it will be increasingly vital for these new transformational leaders to maintain consistent, open dialogue with other levels of management and their EPMO. After all, we’re talking about changing fundamentals that have the potential to materially impact the direction of their organization. At any point, what can seem like the smallest change within the internal or external environment of the organization can have the potential to not only derail a project but also to impact the entire portfolio and in turn compromise critical areas of operations.
Four critical skills tomorrow’s CIOs need to survive
The worldwide business backdrop is rapidly intensifying and becoming increasingly complex, which challenges tomorrow’s CIOs to come to the table with much more than high-level technical insights and experience.
Historically CIOs have played an executive-level information-systems and technology-oversight (IS&T) role when it came to all data and technology facets of the business, while they have not spent much time on other operations-wide aspects. With the swiftness of technology and globalization, tomorrow’s CIOs can no longer afford to play just this role. They will be required to develop additional knowledge in multiple business areas in order to become more resilient strategic thinkers. CIOs who are up for this challenge will gain a solid competitive advantage in their field and increase their value to employers; this will subsequently afford them opportunities previously unavailable.
For CIOs, landing and keeping a job is more problematic than in previous years. The time when CIOs held roles and responsibilities with absolute and defined boundaries has vanished.
When it comes to the new and improved CIO role, the lines have blurred, which has increased ambiguity and responsibility while it had also created great opportunities for expansion in terms of the application of knowledge, experience, and skill sets. Future CIOs will be expected to take on more multifaceted challenges as employers aim to more broadly define and optimize the CIO function.
Tomorrow’s CIO will need to become more
Instinctive and visionary. They will need to be capable of rapidly anticipating, identifying, and adjusting the information, products, and services their teams provide to internal and external stakeholders. New CIOs will need to keep pace with factors impacting not just their areas but also the business as a whole, and they will have to become agile enough to expeditiously adapt. Their ability to grasp the broader business goals and very closely strategize and collaborate with their teams, stakeholders, and other C-suites will be critical. Setting and obtaining the business vision can no longer continue to be the responsibility of only the CEO. The CIO, along with other executives, will be required to apply well-researched, planned input and effort throughout all endeavors in order to be considered successful.
Organizationally and globally astute. They will need to recognize that their general roles have changed and thus require a broader-scope approach to the daily activities within their department. As mentioned above, lines among C-suites will become more blurred, which will necessitate closer collaboration among business executives for the purposing of ensuring that all activities and projects fully align with business-wide objectives.
To accomplish this, a progressive CIO will need to explore all internal and external factors that have an ability to positively or negatively impact IS&T outcomes on a global level. This will assist a CIO in determining the most effective and appropriate decisions, in a manner that is more proactive than reactive. To a great extent, CIOs will need to be willing to play and capable of playing in more than just their own sandbox.
People-focused. They will have to constantly increase their awareness and interactions within their department and between departments, vendors, clients, and other stakeholders. This should be done with the goal of maintaining clear communications and improving positive interactions. Absent this skill, the most technically and strategically sound CIO can easily fail. This particular skill is not always effortlessly obtained, but given continuous attention, it can have the greatest impact on the effectiveness of a CIO.
Transparent and approachable. They must channel positive behavior and maintain an approachable and professional character within all relationships in order to increase the potential for increased constructive discussions. The more data and technology enables the agility of business; the more CIOs will increasingly be expected to emerge from the background as key leaders. Their sophisticated knowledge of business-intelligence systems and technological developments will help to shine a spotlight on IS&T and thus increase its relevance to stakeholders. This, in turn, puts more pressure on tomorrow’s CIOs to also advance in their softer skills, such as transparency and approachability, when dealing with employees, other executives, vendors, and clients.
CIOs who continually strive to develop a solid understanding of business at a strategic business level and also recognize the need to uphold the skills required for their role will excel and remain in high demand and secure a long and sustainable future in their field.
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Moira Alexander, PMP, I.S.P., ITCP/IP3P, is a recognized project management influencer, thought leader, a regular correspondent for PMI’s Projectified podcast, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of PMWorld 360 Magazine, Founder of Lead-Her-Ship Group, and author of “LEAD or LAG: Linking Strategic Project Management & Thought Leadership”. Moira has over 25 years of experience in business (IS&T) and project management for small to large businesses in the US and Canada and has been quoted in various publications including Forbes. She writes thought leadership content for top-tier publications and business blogs and oversees or writes sponsored content and software reviews on PMWorld 360 Magazine.