LeanIX and Wipro Leaders: Discuss The Future of the CIO
by Betsy Burton
I had the pleasure of hosting a panel today with Christian Richter, SVP of Customer Success with LeanIX, and David Kenner, Senior Partner with Wipro. The discussion was focused on how leading CIOs Increase their strategic Impact and business value today and in the future.
I started out by discussing some of Aragon Research’s top predictions and trends. For more information on this research, see:
- Aragon Research’s Top Predictions for 2021
- Top 10 Technology Trends That Are Changing in 2021
- Are You Ready to Manage Digital Labor?
My goal for highlighting these trends was to remind us that business today is all about technology, and technology is all about enabling the business; every business is a technology business.
Changing Role of CIO: Strategic Leader
With this stage set, Christian, David and I discussed the evolving role of a CIO. David pointed out that leading CIOs were focused on supporting business outcomes and strategy. Christian agreed and said that it was a mistake for CIOs to view use of technology in the business as “shadow IT” or business IT, that CIOs must view their role as much broader than running the IT department and operating IT systems.
We also discuss what can be viewed as a bit of evolution/tension between the CIO and the CTO and Chief Digital Officer (CDO) roles. In some cases, we are seeing the CTO take a focus on the business, strategy, and customers, leaving the CIO to focus on IT operations. Many times, the CDO is a leader in a business unit focused on digitalizing business.
CIOs must recognize that their organizations have evolved. It is no longer about business versus IT, but rather about technology-enabled business strategy and value.
This requires a fundamental switch in thinking for many CIOs, from inside-out to outside-in thinking; customers, partners, and business ecosystem first and foremost. CIOs that do not recognize this need to change risk being relegated to a tactical operational role.
Enterprise Architect as a Critical Resource
We also discussed that the Enterprise Architect can be a key resource for CIOs that are seeking to have a more strategic role. Leading EAs are focused on a future-state and strategy-driven approaches to helping leaders make decisions.
As David said during the webinar, great EAs help the organization understand what trade-off decisions need to be made based on the business’s future vision, not just immediate needs.
Christian also discussed the critical role of business architects and solution architects that are focused on where the business is going holistically, and how the business needs to make investment decisions in people and technology to support this direction.
Think and Act Strategically
We also discussed what CIOs and EAs should do if their organization is still focused on tactical issues or won’t engage with them in strategic discussions.
We all agreed that the best thing to do is to demonstrate strategic thinking and business value and gradually help peers and executives see the CIO and EA role as strategic. David suggested working with counterparts to help them and deliver value. This will help evolve perceptions about the roles and deliver value first and foremost.
Don’t ask for a seat at the strategic table, give leaders a business-value reason to want the CIO and EA in strategy discussions.
One of the last questions I asked the panelist was, “what is the aspect or action that could derail CIOs in the future?” Christian commented that if CIOs approach every opportunity or project like it is an ERP implementation, it will severely derail their impact and value. CIOs must be willing to work with their business counterparts to iterate and evolve as needed to support the business strategy and direction. David agreed with this and added that CIOs will need to help their business innovate and explore new business enabled by emerging technologies.
We closed off a discussion with a quick question about what makes us all excited about the future for CIOs and our organizations. We all agreed that there is so much interesting emerging technology that can impact the business and people’s lives that it is an exciting time to be in these roles.
Our own organizations are all focused on helping clients discover new technology-enabled business models. It is an exciting time for CIOs, EAs, and each of us on the panel.