Being a CIO isn't what it used to be.

Back in the day, the job was pretty clear cut. You had to drive internal operations and keep under budget.

Now, CIOs are also responsible for things like accelerating business growth and driving "customer success." That's a loaded concept, entailing areas like customer service, digital experiences, and building operations around customer needs.

Forrester says, "CEOs will expect CIOs to grow out of being mere custodians of technology to actively wield tech to drive revenue instead."

If you're a CIO, you're probably asking yourself, how am I going to succeed with these sort of digital strategy demands?

First, Forget About the Technology

I don't mean entirely forget it. After all, that's what you were originally hired and paid to do: manage, maintain and upgrade technology.

But that's the old way of doing things. That's where you should start, but that's definitely not where you should stop. The new era of CIO digital strategy involves focusing on the customer.

More specifically, how can you deliver a superior customer experience, far beyond what these other competitors can offer?

Domino's came to the same conclusion. Before even the technology, they had to focus on the product, which was bad. Customers said the pizza tasted like cardboard. It sucked. Sales was so bad that their stock price plummeted 90%, a drop that all but signaled the end of Domino's.

Instead of running from the problem, they owned up to it. In 2010, they ran an official campaign with the slogan, "We suck." It showed a lot of transparency and awareness, and an implicit commitment to make things right.

In the midst of revamping their product, they were able to come up with technology—apps, social media, website—that made ordering pizza more convenient and efficient. While the technology helped in their product revamp, it came only as a byproduct. Domino's focused on addressing the main thing first, the customer.

The lesson is that without a great product or service offering for the customer, the rest (including the technology) simply won't matter.

Stay on Top of Cyber Security

The issues with security never seem to stop. If it isn't Target one week, it's LinkedIn the next.

But cyber security is something that a CIO can't fumble. There's a lot at stake for your organization. Not having the right cyber security strategy can result in loss of customer trust and revenue. Much of your contribution as CIO depends on your ability to protect the company's customers and employees.

With ongoing advances in mobile and cloud-based computing, your department will experience new challenges. Threats will evolve along with the technology.

So, you might want to consider an intelligence-driven approach to digital strategy. Use behavior analytics to identify system anomalies. Provide visibility and context across all digital channels.

Most of all, continue observing the latest threats, trends and prevention methods. The more you're aware, the better equipped you'll be to stump out threats and keep your company safe.

Put a Priority on Innovation

As CIO, perhaps your greatest goal is to drive innovation within your organization. Joshua Cooper Ramo, author of The Seventh Sense, says, "In a connected age, it turns out that the more risk you take, the faster you can change and learn and draw on resources you didn’t even know existed." How can a CIO embrace new innovative capabilities and take good risks in his or her digital strategy?

More so than any other C-level, CIOs have the greatest potential to thrive in the role of innovator. They have access to and understanding of new technologies, trends and other knowledge. CIOs have the ability to vision-cast and set a digital strategy concerning what's possible in the present and near future. All this means the ability to create new products or services, perhaps even drive competitive advantage.

The fact of the matter is, there is no security in staying the same. In fact, the worst thing you can do is stay put. As new technology emerges, your customers will be looking for new and easier ways to do business with you.

If you don't do it, someone else will. And your customers will go somewhere else.

As CIO, do you have a solid digital strategy in place to reach your customers? Digital experiences are defining the way customers do business with you. The CIOs who understand this will find creative ways to interact with them throughout the entire customer lifecycle.

This new era is a great opportunity for CIOs to impact their organizations, create significant value and rise up as a true leader. Don't be afraid of the changes—embrace them.

The time is now.

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