How Digital Transformation can take the CIOs to the Board Level

CIOs have a new chance in the digital environment, where a new generation of digital products and services is raising

For several years, CIOs have been complaining about their lack of involvement in strategic decisions on their companies, being part only in operational discussions. An irreverent CIO once told me: “We absolutely are not in the “C” level! We attend the board meetings only when the data projector is not working.”

The CIOs had their golden age with the Internet’s initial growth. At that moment, as the ancestors of the startups, the “dot-coms” were booming and changing the world with their new technologies. IT was the focus of the new businesses while the spotlights turned to the CIOs. Right after that, the dot-com bubble collapsed, technology did not deliver the artificially inflated expectations and, the CIOs started to lose their importance in the corporate world.

The lowest point of the CIO´s careers was Nicholas Carr article “IT Doesn’t Matter”, stating that despite its importance, IT would soon be a commodity and bring no sustainable competitive advantage for the companies. Mr. Carr believed that no innovation would come from technology and, it would become a cheap commodity, accessible for all companies, and not supporting huge investments. Nicholas Carr has looked into the IT of 2003, mainly to the infrastructure. A lot has changed since then. Although that kind of IT has really become a cheap commodity, he did not foresee that this old IT concept has served as a bold platform for innovation and new business models, creating a new IT.

Since then, IT has become so pervasive that segmenting businesses into possessions and software makes no sense anymore. The businesses are becoming more and more digital this is why IT matters a lot. Ask any online-based company if IT matters. For other segments, IT painfully matters or has become a new revenue source. New ways of using technology will affect an ever-growing business list, where several businesses are being rewritten by computer systems.

 

The CIO has a new chance in this second environment, where a new generation of digital products and services are created.

 

Gartner has coined the expression of Bimodal IT that fully expresses how things have changed. This bimodality refers to the two different IT environments, where the first is the infrastructure (servers, network, and foundation software) and the second is related to the differentiation opportunities and digital innovation. Nicholas Carr was right about the first one, but he couldn’t have imagined how strong the innovation wheel would become. The CIO has a new chance in this second environment, where a new generation of digital products and services will be created.

The CIOs have the opportunity to lead the digital transformation in their companies due to their position understanding the new opportunities brought by innovative technologies because this role demands a new mindset, moving away from an IT foundation, and being closer to the business opportunities. If the CIO does not take the initiative, an executive from another area will, because of the board pressure to make this transformation happen, will increase over time. Another candidate, as usual, will be marketing and business leaders, having the advantage of being closer to digital technologies than they were ten years ago. From their point of view, technology is not about COBIT or ITIL frameworks, but actually, the business opportunities unleashed by it.

Nicholas Carr ends the article “IT Doesn’t Matter” by saying that IT would be boring and bureaucratic. But IT is again at the spot to become the company core structure. It’s all about how the CIO will look at this opportunity: to lead the digital transformation process or to prove that Nicholas Carr right. It’s up to you, CIO!

 

Author: Luis Dosso

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