Cloud computing is forcing CIOs to think differently about how they generate value for the business, says Don Holley, Managing Director of Mindset, the organisational transformation specialists (www.mindsetgroup.com.au)
He argues Cloud is creating a different toolset to solve the problems and challenges facing business and one that requires new skillsets but also a new mindset from the CIO and his/her leadership team.CIOs and IT departments - as well as the vendors that supply products and services to them - still spend too much time “thinking about the drill and not enough time thinking about the hole.” That is to say the technology they are deploying rather than the outcome they are seeking and the problem they are solving.
IT Leaders need a new mindset that shifts their thinking from the tried, trusted and comfortable approach of command and control, to one based on collaboration, communication and coordination.
Don urges CIOs in particular to take a different approach to project implementation and change management. Projects often fail because there is too much focus on change management and not enough on change leadership. Change leadership demands managers move away from managing “things” to leading people. It’s very important to connect those involved and affected by a project to a common purpose. People very rarely want change per se; they want to see improvement.
Wayne Gretsky, the most successful ice hockey player of all time, famously said of his secret to success, “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.” Similarly, the challenge for CIOs is to think beyond simply what internal stakeholders say they want and deliver real innovation and a competitive advantage for the business. This is no easy task and CIOs must find the balance between being evangelists and demonstrating genuine value.
One of the main drivers of this change in approach is the loss of control that many CIOs face. The rise of the consumerisation of technology, particularly in the form of mobile and tablet devices, and the ready availability of software as a service, has led to a rise in so called “shadow IT” projects. Rogue departmental heads are simply ignoring unresponsive or uncooperative IT Departments and commissioning DIY IT projects, often leaving the IT department to clean up the mess when it all goes horribly wrong. IT may no longer be the gatekeepers. It’s much better to approach stakeholders with a collaborative and innovative mindset.
The shift to the cloud is also requiring CIOs to think differently about talent planning. Cloud to some degree shifts the skills focus away from “doing” tasks and technical skills towards interpersonal and commercial skills. In a cloud centric environment, the IT team are more likely to be found managing relationships with key suppliers and building bridges with their internal customers. The challenge for CIOs is to balance business and technical skills within their teams. Increasingly CIOs are looking to recruit business people rather than technologists into the IT team. Those who understand and are able to analyse how the business functions are in increasing demand as CIOs strive to deliver an agile IT environment that can flex to the ever more rapid changes in the business environment.
A Cloud model is forcing CIOs and their teams to think and behave differently - and also enables them to play a more strategic role. However, with technology becoming embedded ever deeper into the fabric of organisations, the opportunity for CIOs to have a greater impact on the business strategy and results, grows ever stronger.