IBM recently published a study titled “The New Voice of the CIO“. They interviewed over 2,598 CIO’s from midsized organizations from 31 countries. Based on profit before tax figures from 2004 to 2007, they ranked the organizations in three groups, high-growth, medium-growth and low-growth. Then, they looked at differences between CIO’s in each group to find out what made some more successful then others. I would argue that the results do not just apply to CIO’s but to anyone wishing to be successful as a business manager.
Innovating while keeping it real
In order to facilitate innovation a solid foundation for execution must be built as discussed in my previous post. As well, it is important to keep abreast of changes in the environment to ensure the organization can profit from new solutions and new initiatives. Executives and Senior Managers must be Visionaries and Pragmatics at the same time; they must promote new solutions while being able to come back down to earth and deal with real business problems. A ongoing concern should be to enable productivity and once that is done, more time can be spent on innovating.
This is done through reducing cost and creating efficiencies. This process is ongoing. IT plays a large role in this by automating processes, providing accurate reports and enabling work flows. Whenever possible, synergies must be created and any time or money wasted on activities that do not create value for the business must be eliminated.
Collaborating and Motivating
Executives and Senior Managers who are team players, visionaries, engaging and motivating do not just deal with business issues within their own department but expand their expertise to help others as well as the whole organization. They continously think of new ways to drive business (we should all be sales people all the time) and whenever appropriate, they support other departments and colleagues in solving issues. I would further argue that collaboration is not created by sending multiple emails or engaging in day-long strategy reviews. A few simple regular verbal exchanges between colleagues is the best team building exercise. Ongoing and regular emailing to discuss everything and anything is such a big pet peeve of mine that I plan to write an article on this in the near future.
A few research findings about high-growth CIO’s got my attention:
- They collaborate proactively with colleagues in order to create innovation and support business strategy
- Most use a service-oriented architecture/web services
- They collaborate with external firms to bridge gaps/holes in their organization
- They don’t just generate data but use the data to show how the organization can create bettter products and services
- The great majority (80%) work on improving integration and transparency in order to satisfy customers
- They spend significantly less time on managing day-to-day IT issues
The last point I assume could be due to having less IT issues to deal with than in low-growth organizations as well as having mentored their IT staff to be able to handle those issues on their own.