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A New Era in IT Strategy, a New Style of CIO


Author: Ben Lovejoy, EU Editor of 9to5Mac and 9to5Google


IT strategy has arguably changed more in the past five years than it has in the previous 20 years. The traditional view of the CIO has primarily been as a back-office function, one that performs the necessary but unexciting job of managing the systems that support the real business of the company. In the past, IT existed in the shadow of more visible functions, such as product development and marketing.


A new Style of CIO

Today's IT world is different. Even the most conservative companies now have some degree of awareness that IT strategy is a core function. That awareness has created the opportunity for CIOs to create a radical shift in the way they're viewed by the board. The new CIO is an innovator and a business leader whose expertise and leadership propels the business forward, away from the legacy systems of the past and into the New Style of Business.


To facilitate this shift in perception, the new CIO must present him or herself as the voice of the customer. Deeply attached to their mobile devices, customers aren't willing to interact with companies through the antiquated processes contained within legacy systems — hence the term "mobile first." Your customers take a mobile first approach, so why wouldn't your business?


A smartphone app is your storefront, and the smartphone itself is your customers' desired method of communication. According to Ralph Loura, CIO HP Enterprise Group, "Companies are winning in the market because they were able to radically change the user experience of what they sell." Today's CIO must convey that to those employees, including those on the board, who may be apprehensive about breaking away from legacy systems.


Employees who are attached to those legacy systems must be educated about who today's consumers are and what they expect from today's businesses. Things that are obvious to you, such as the need for apps, integration and responsive websites, may be a revelation to the more traditional business leaders at your company. "It starts and ends with technology," said Paul Chapman, CIO HP Software. "You've got to have a relationship with your IT team about how to deliver that value — that expertise — in a differentiated way."


To develop this relationship with your IT team, you'll also need to come to terms with a new style of worker, a connected generation of millennials raised by technology, capable of self-management and hungry for a new kind of CIO. "We need to adapt to that new style of worker ... to watch — observe and actually learn — and then partner with them, versus forcing them into some model you've had in place forever," Chapman said.


Bring this new perspective to the table, and you'll create benefits for the business and grow your own influence from the inside out. Businesses tend to view things from their own perspective rather than that of their customers. Differentiate your business from those that have a narrow perspective, and you differentiate yourself from the old style of CIO.


CIOs: what’s the best and most effective way to impact your enterprise? Is it speed to market or is it leveraging margin expansion through pricing alternatives? Is it capitalizing on big data or is it exploiting mobile to provide a different user experience? Gain additional insights by reading Ralph Loura’s post titled A Letter to the CIO of the Future.


A Letter to the CIO of the Future


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About the Author


I have worked at HP for more than 16 years. I enjoy finding the stories that matter to our readers, and helping them solve everyday business challenges.