During my 20+ years in Corporate IT, I had the privilege of holding five CIO positions at various companies. It’s a tough job and one that requires you (as the CIO) to be continually evolving.
There are many facets to be an effective CIO. Here are some high-level areas of focus – yes, there are more!
a. The ability to affect progress and change through others.
b. The ability to align the hearts and minds of your teams to the goals/mission of the organization.
c. The ability to define and implement a strategy that advances the business objectives.
d. The ability to create other Leaders!
2. Business Focus and Savvy
a. Think beyond the bits and bytes.
3. Team Building
a. Acquire and maintain top talent.
b. Grow the skill-set of the organization.
4. Financial Visibility and Competence
a. Understand and manage budgets with accuracy.
b. Create winning technology acquisition solutions.
5. Technology Vision and Industry Awareness
a. Determine the technology strategy for the organization.
b. Know the industry and available solution providers.
6. Personal Development
a. The awareness, desire, and ability to grow as a professional.
While I could write about each of the above, for this article I’d like to dig a bit deeper into #5 – Technology Vision and Industry Awareness.
We have seen numerous companies buy the big logos, pay for the hardware and services to implement, and not deliver a solution that met the needs of the business. The logos are no longer a guarantee in themselves; CIOs must be able to go beyond their immediate talent pools and create leverage for the organization.
Your IT army must include internal talent, consultants/contractors, and solution providers who add a dimension to your capabilities not achievable by internal resources alone. Additionally, you must be working with solution providers that can make your company a priority. Don’t get me wrong, I have purchased a lot of big logo products and services over the years – but it was when I was at the largest of institutions – and we were a major priority, so we got all the attention we needed.
There is a massive amount of leverage that lives among the “as a service” or Cloud-based solution providers. These aren’t small, fly-by-night providers, nor are they the Big Logo behemoths either. If you want your phones or Contact Center in the cloud, there are many options beyond Cisco and Avaya. If you want out of your data center – numerous viable colocation facilities serve up n+ tier capabilities. If you want cyber-security – you done have to implement the costly, on-premise tools and have the vast array of personnel to support them. If you want your virtualized infrastructure stack in the cloud, again, there are many options beyond DIY.
You can run these solutions (and even more) in the Cloud, all at a cost-of-ownership that provides excellent value and leverage. Leverage because each of these solution providers come with an internal army of support and highly technical personnel who are positioned to serve you, the client. Most importantly, with the right providers, you will be far more of a priority than being the smallest fish in the pond. Their service can be far more personal and focused on your specific business goals.
The challenge is knowing the providers, their strengths, weaknesses, capabilities, roadmaps, and more importantly – who works there. Because like anything else, results come down to people. Commodities like AWS and AZURE are fantastic – but you still need people to run it – and yes, you can buy that support from various companies that specialize in it.
Having spent the last three years discovering and navigating the sea of solution providers, on top of over two decades of delivering enterprise solutions for some of the largest enterprises, with confidence I can tell you that CIO’s must pay attention beyond the big logos. Sure, the big logo companies will be here – and in all truth and transparency, they have great solutions – but they often come at a higher cost, with a watered-down customer support experience. They just become too big to serve at a more personal level. Lastly, the bigs have constant turn-over and reorganizations that by the time you make a solid relationship, you’re assigned someone new.
So, build your team, create your leverage, and deliver value!
If we at D&M can help in any way, reach out, and we will be there.