Last week we had the pleasure of hosting a diverse group of leading Midlands based CIO’s for a round table dinner. The central theme of the evening was the role of the CIO in delivering commercial value. The economy is in steady recovery, and we have palpable demand for CIO’s and IT leaders who can deliver beyond the slash ‘n’ burn cost savings that typified the recession.
This is a topic we explored in the last of our IT Leadership Dinners in the North West, to some interesting outcomes. The overarching outcomes from our Midlands dinner were firmly in common territory. The clarion call to CIO’s and IT Directors alike is simply ; ‘Leadership, leadership, leadership!’ But expanding this further, success is no longer measured by making IT happen, the measurement of value is maturing:
- Effective CIO’s influence and shape the commercial agenda. Being an enabler is key, but being a challenger and an influencer is where value happens.
- Communication with commercial stakeholders, is a ‘whole function’ thing. CIO’s lead the charge, but for real impact the IT capability has to be engaged in the business challenge with a shared lexicon. This underpins delivery effectiveness, supporting shared outcomes.
- Gender diversity is ever more important. The function must mirror the business. Leaders are acutely aware that it’s a problem, and know that it is something that needs to be progressively addressed. No magic bullets here.
Pleasingly the UK CIO & IT Director talent pool UK is of a common mind set and purpose. The CIO community is committed to continuous improvement, committed to learning the lessons of other sectors and markets, and perhaps most importantly are absolutely committed to the delivery of value. It was another evening successfully not spent talking about technology!
It’s been said that businesses often ‘get the CIO that they deserve’, and there are clearly some deserving businesses out there. Boards are more aware of the leadership asset they have in a CIO, and the shape of the contribution they can make and effect. It is incumbent upon CIO’s to keep pushing the agenda so that they continue to be the CIO’s that businesses need and deserve.
Matt Cockbill is a Partner, and Head of IT Leadership & EMI Practices for Berwick Partners nationally with teams in Birmingham, Manchester and London. He has a passion for the outputs of technology, and is foxed by the inputs! Alex Richardson is a Consultant within the IT Leadership Practice based in Manchester.