Business leaders expect CIOs to lead technology-driven innovation in the enterprise, but as we discussed in last week’s blog, many are still caught up in the daily grind of running an IT department. As it turns out, CIOs need to do more than just make time for innovation; they need to actually change their behaviour. According to new research from the Harvard Business Review, CIOs who are focused on IT-driven business innovation tend to have six traits in common. How many of these traits do you currently possess? Can you call yourself an innovator?
A close working relationship with the CEO
As information technology pervades more top-line activities, CIOs – as the resident technology experts – have the opportunity to assume a more strategic, value-added role in the enterprise. Innovation leadership must start at the top, and the CIO should have a seat at the executive table to officiate an innovation pipeline and process. In 41% of technology-driven businesses, CIOs take on more responsibility for leading innovation, side-by-side with the CEO.
Have a structured approach to innovation
While having a structured approach is critical to increasing the flow and uptake of ideas, too much process can stifle innovation. CIOs are also under added time pressure, as organisations have three years to reach their peak and then start the reinvention cycle again. With the right balance of structure and an agile mindset, even long-established enterprises can innovate quickly. 79% of CIOs at innovative companies use a structured, but fast, approach to prevent IT overload and create an organisation capable of delivering and responding to change more effectively.
Collaborate with other line of business managers
Collaboration is critical to the innovation-driven CIO. It is important that IT engages with the rest of the business to identify opportunities for simplification. 61% of CIOs at innovative companies use cross-functional teams to seek out new ideas and create IT-driven business innovation.
Be a business strategist
When CIOs play an active role in business strategy, IT performance on a wide range of functional and business tasks improves. CIOs can add value to the enterprise by developing and refining business strategy, driving business innovation and identifying opportunities for competitive differentiation. Business leaders in technology-driven organisations believe that 46% of their CIOs’ time should be driving business innovation versus keeping the lights on.
Align IT with the business
Innovative CIOs run IT departments that are highly capable of supporting new business ideas and opportunities. 91% of line of business in innovative companies say their CIO and IT departments have a solid understanding of their overall business objectives and are seen as game changers rather than just cost centres.
Invest in and reward innovation
It is not enough to have the right skills, mindset and ability; investment in innovation is important too. CIOs at innovation-driven companies are twice as likely to invest in an emerging technology group as companies with an ‘ad hoc’ approach to business transformation.
The Enterprisers Project has compiled the findings from the HBR study into the below infographic:
If you don’t possess all of these traits, you may be missing an opportunity to drive innovation in your organisation. We offer advice to CIOs embarking on the innovation journey in our complimentary how-to guide, ‘The age of innovation: When change is no longer an option’, available for download here.