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New leaders typically have 90 days to make their mark on the organization. This transition time and the built-in anticipation of change provide a great opportunity for new CIOs, and is the focus of a recent article by Diana Bersohn for CIO magazine.

Similarly, we’d argue that IT leaders who’ve served in their roles for a while ¾ even years ¾ can also leverage the following 4 imperatives to elevate their IT program across the organization:

>> Know how digital demand affects every area of the business.

This entails inquiring about the company’s culture and perception of IT, as well as understanding the organization’s business strategy, challenges, financials and industry dynamics. Then, CIOs should use that knowledge to show tangible progress toward the future digital state vision.

“For example,” writes Bersohn, “one CIO embarked upon a multiyear transformation to modernize their company’s application architecture and migrated to a shared services operating model to increase efficiency, using metrics that [allowed] him to demonstrate progress at each ‘value drop’ throughout the program.”

>> Become the company’s innovation architect.

A recent report by Accenture claims only 34% of executives expect the IT department to be the primary driver of innovation in the next two years, down from 71% just two years ago.

“A credible CIO will put a provocative, bold plan forward, fusing business and IT visions with the potential to disrupt,” writes Bersohn. “Additionally, business strategy, imperatives, value drivers, key customer considerations and technology expectations are factored into short-term plans, such as cloud strategy, that can light the path for IT to lead and deliver quick wins.”

>> Embrace the “we economy”

This is where CIOs can (and should) show their business chops and work their communications skills. It requires close collaboration across departments, identifying tech-savvy executives in finance, marketing, sales, R&D, etc. to forge alliances with executives who can help propel the company’s digital transformation forward.

>> Rally the IT team to support the IT agenda

Astute CIOs should have a clear picture of their team’s talent and capability gaps. Then, they should “act promptly and decisively to make changes, and recruit new talent and ideas sooner, not later.” Creating a dream team may require looking outside the organization and ensuring the team is “conversant in business as well as technology.”

It’s no secret that the average tenure of a CIO tends to be shorter than that of other C-suite executives. By applying these directives, CIOs can ensure a lasting and profitable impact on the organizations they serve.

About Tony Johnson

Innovative helps you balance your business requirements, service levels, staff and infrastructure to make your IT as effective as possible. Tony Johnson is Vice President of Operations at Innovative and has been helping clients optimize their IT spend and operations since 1983.

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