CIOs Have to Move Out of Their ‘Comfort Zone’

by Shweta Verma    Dec 17, 2013


The changes imposed by market forces can be rapid and far reaching. Therefore, businesses have to keep a constant watch on the technology shifts, new business models and consumer behavior patterns that are driving the change. In such a scenario, IT leaders can play a significant role by leveraging their experience in tech innovation into the business operating model, suggests Jaspreet Singh, Associate Director, EY India.

Driving business transformation

“In the old days, it was simply a matter of keeping IT projects on time and on budget — but today, the CIO has to be active across every aspect of complex investment programs which can cost millions of pounds,” explains Singh. “The CIO needs to identify what business changes are required to improve performance, and take on accountability for driving end-to-end business process transformation.”

Technology can play a critical role in the success of business transformation initiatives, not just as an enabler but as a key driver of change. Therefore, IT leaders or CIOs are also expected to partner in every business initiative. “Businesses today encounter near-constant upheaval, which they can endure and even benefit from when supported by a rejuvenated IT organization,” says Singh.

Outside the technology closet

In short, a CIO has to be prepared to move out of his traditional role or ‘comfort zone’ to make a greater impact on other business functions. His role would include facilitating collaboration, both internally and across enterprises; managing the rapidly changing area of business and technological security; and tackling the challenges of information and knowledge within the organization.

However, Singh points out that most organizations are not even coming close to realizing the potential benefits of their IT investments. “Many organizations are stretched to the breaking point just trying to maintain existing systems,” he says.

Redefining the purpose of IT

Both IT and business leaders have to encounter a number of challenges while working together. “We see many organizations in which the business doesn’t trust IT and IT feels marginalized by the business. In many cases, senior management has little awareness of IT governance processes, and IT is viewed as a mere support function with no defined mission,” elaborates Singh.

There is a need for a radical transformation not only in how IT does its job, but also in the way business is aligned with IT. The legacy perception of the IT department as “back-office order takers” hampers a dynamic CIO’s ability to be seen as an agile business partner, says Singh. Therefore, if CIOs have to assert themselves and move out of their IT closets to play a much bigger role in an organizations business growth and success.