Published on December 4, 2023, 7:30 am

CIOs Hold the Key to Strategic Success in Organizations

CIOs play a crucial role within organizations, possessing unique insights into all aspects of the company. Today, they have the opportunity to leverage their perspective and take on a more strategic role as the orchestrators-in-chief of their companies.

Irving Tyler, distinguished research vice president with Gartner’s CIO Research team, points out that only the CIO and CEO have this broad perspective. The CIO’s deeper insight into execution offers a valuable counterbalance to the CEO’s bigger-picture strategic viewpoint.

Transitioning from a traditional CIO to a chief orchestrator requires finesse, relationship building, and a deep understanding of the organization’s strategy. It also demands initiative and proactive participation in shaping that strategy. This shift may even entail embracing new responsibilities and possibly adopting a new title.

While this career transition is not for the faint of heart, it allows CIOs to create value beyond what traditional CIO roles typically deliver. In recent Gartner research, C-suite executives acknowledged that technology plays a significant role in achieving new business outcomes. As a result, these executives are engaging in more one-on-one interactions with their organization’s CIOs.

As relationships between C-suite leaders and CIOs strengthen through these interactions, opportunities arise for collaboration and integration across departments. The CIO gains an enterprise-wide overview and can identify areas where different initiatives need to align or collaborate with other functional areas such as supply chain or HR.

Elizabeth Hoemeke, CIO of digital payments platform One, emphasizes IT’s role as glue that holds departments together by integrating systems and providing solutions for customers. By observing various groups operating within the organization, she can facilitate collaboration among different stakeholders.

To effectively mold strategy for their organizations’ technology landscape, there are several steps that CIOs can take:

1. Foster Strong Partnerships: Building strong relationships with leaders across functions is critical. Regular interactions and meetings with senior executives can lead to greater success in achieving business outcomes.

2. Provide End-to-End Perspective: CIOs can offer new leaders a comprehensive understanding of the organization by providing insights into current initiatives, future plans, and soliciting their input. This allows for a smoother onboarding process and lays the foundation for collaboration.

3. Conduct Roadmap Reviews: Engage with executive leadership by understanding their priorities over the next 6 to 12 months. Using this information, IT can create technology roadmaps for each functional area and present them to the entire executive team, ensuring visibility and alignment across departments.

4. Prioritize Business Goals: As technology demands increase, CIOs must determine which projects align with the most important business goals. By acting as orchestrators, they ensure that limited resources are allocated optimally and prioritized based on business needs.

5. Embrace Centralization: CIOs should aim to become centralized sources for technology resources within the organization. In addition to serving as in-house consultants for technology projects, they can also act as keepers of data insights and facilitators of emerging technologies like artificial intelligence.

6. Invest in Relationships: Collaboration and transparency are key ingredients for successful initiatives involving technology changes or transformations. Partnerships with colleagues from different departments help build trust and enable smoother transitions during critical projects.

To excel as orchestrators of companies’ technology strategies, CIOs need to step out of the shadows and proactively contribute ideas during discussions rather than merely presenting progress reports. By demonstrating their business acumen and suggesting integrated approaches that align various departmental objectives, CIOs can drive value creation across the organization.

In essence, CIOs who successfully embrace their roles as chief orchestrators have the potential to significantly impact strategic decision-making beyond traditional IT functions, enabling organizations to effectively navigate the ever-evolving technological landscape.


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