CIOs need to stop thinking of themselves as Chief Information Officers. The vague title gives the impression that the CIO is the custodian of information, when the important part is really what they're doing with it. Rather, CIOs should begin thinking of themselves as Chief Interaction Officers who free the flow of information between all departments and empower employees to positively engage with customers at any time, in any place.
The CIO's ultimate mission
Every job needs a defined “ultimate mission” -- that one thing that you must accomplish, if nothing else. For CIOs this mission is rapidly evolving. As IT functions are being outsourced or shifted to the cloud, more resources can be dedicated to innovation, rather than maintaining bloated infrastructure. This has forever changed the CIO's job, enhancing the ability -- and expectation -- to provide strategic value. Additionally, cloud computing has enabled other department heads to purchase technology out of the CIO's purview -- particularly marketing, which is now on its way to spending more on technology than IT, according to Gartner. In light of this, a fundamental question for any CIO is: what exactly is your mission?
If your answer centers on keeping your company's systems up and running, you're selling your department short. While it's certainly critical, right or wrong, this focus is becoming dated in the emerging customer engagement economy. Notably, as companies increasingly look to go wall-to-wall in the cloud in order to meet the demands of today's always-on customer, emphasis is shifting from maintenance to momentum -- enabling the company to move at the ever-increasing speed of business.
‘Information' is a commodity, ‘Interaction' is business value
Companies can no longer sustain the 3x investment required to attract new business. Instead, they need to drive more business and higher value deals from existing customers. That's why nearly 90% of CEOs rank customer engagement as their primary initiative. To thrive, CIOs must be customer-obsessed -- or rather, obsessed with equipping their people with a quasi-psychic power to anticipate customers' needs. CIOs must focus like a laser on orienting people, processes, and technologies around the customer, whose opinion will soon count more than the manager's in day-to-day decisions. They've got to take information, which is now a commodity, and create true business value from it by facilitating interaction.
As forward-thinking CIOs redefine their roles, I propose “Chief Interaction Officer.” Not only do you get to keep the initials, but you've delineated yourself in terms of a specific strategic role that is becoming more important by the hour in our tech-driven society. To reinvent your role for the 21st Century customer engagement economy, consider the following: