If you run IT, you know that the rules of the game have changed. The yardstick by which you're measured, and the skillsets you need to succeed, are radically different than they were just a few years ago. Perhaps even more importantly, CIOs have had to change the very way they think. CIOs must now think like CEOs. Why? Because that's the only way they can manage technology and deliver services in ways that really drive business performance.
It's difficult to overstate how dramatic the change confronting the CIO has been. In the past, leading the selection and implementation of new technologies was a critical part of the CIO's job description. Pick the right ERP application, implement it relatively smoothly, and you'd be seen as a success.
You won if the trains simply ran on time -- and the wheels didn't squeak too much. You focused on meeting your uptime SLAs. You made sure users didn't have much to complain about, and that new projects didn't generate too much turbulence. These priorities kept your personal stock high -- even if they didn't move your company's stock price.
Even more striking is the relatively sedate pace at which things used to move. We managed "refresh cycles." Rather than push the envelope and make a colossal mistake, CIOs chose not to rush things.
Today, CIOs are operating in a completely different world. Everything moves at a blazing velocity -- and CIOs get no accolades for merely procuring efficiently or avoiding outages. Instead, they are being required to have a direct and quantifiable impact on the business. This means that they have to start by focusing on business priorities and challenges -- rather than infrastructure and software -- and then quickly implementing the right mix of internal and cloud services to address those objectives.
Successful CIOs must therefore:
The wildly shifting dynamics in IT can lead to some wildly shifting prospects for those in charge. Managing this change will not be easy, but if CIOs start embracing the CEO's mindset, they'll be better positioned to meet their fundamental charters -- both today and when they do eventually wind up in the CEO's chair themselves.
Chris O'Malley is CEO of Nimsoft. He has devoted 25 years to innovation in the IT industry -- most recently growing businesses in cloud and IT Management as a Service solutions.