Make 2016 the year for integration, not isolation

Is it just me or does the pace of technological change feel quicker than ever? A CIO’s role has rapidly escalated from managing a static function; to boosting operations; to re-imagining the business of tomorrow. For instance, Gartner already tips autonomous agents, ambient user experience and the device mesh as strategic projects that most businesses will focus on in the year ahead. So as the New Year kicks off, brimming with lifestyle promises we almost certainly won’t keep, what corporate resolutions will you be making to ensure growth in 2016?

Granted, not every IT leader will be ready to introduce robotics to the workplace – but what are the priorities for your year ahead to take a competitive advantage? Perhaps it is the introduction of a ground-breaking or pivotal IT project, resourcing and training, or re-evaluating how we interact across the business.

After all, every person in the workforce today is essentially a digital employee. We each use technology in all aspects of our lives and have an opinion on how it is implemented in a business environment too. IDC also points out that two-thirds of CEOs plan to focus on digital transformation strategies in the coming year, with the CIO leading each department through this shift. Such attention presents both a challenge and opportunity to IT leaders. A good place to start would be to consider whether you are working as collaboratively as possible, to determine which projects will ensure success.

Decision-making health check

Colt’s recent ‘Moments that Matter’ study found that the majority (71 per cent) of CIOs still feel intuition and personal experience is, on balance, more effective than data intelligence or third-party advice when making decisions. This is interesting as the range of analytical tools at our disposal has never been greater. From data mining to behavioural biometrics, the insights at our fingertips mean that accurate and informed IT decisions should, in theory, generate greater success.

68 per cent of IT leaders stated that they favoured their own judgement when it came to making pressurised decision and what’s more, three-quarters admitted that this is often at odds with statistical evidence.

So what is detracting some CIOs from taking a more synergistic approach to workplace operations, instead relying on their own gut-feeling? Certainly, a greater awareness of the growing importance of IT by the wider business could be contributing to increasingly personal pressures and risk. This was echoed in the same study, where more than 76 per cent of senior IT leaders felt more vulnerable when making pivotal decisions, than five years ago. Naturally, this could result in split-second instinctive decisions that could determine the difference between great success and total system failure.

What’s clear is this particularly insular way of thinking misses a trick, as input from peers in other parts of the business could bring expertise and collaboration opportunities that an IT department wouldn’t have by making decisions alone.

A fresh approach

In the past a workforce’s expectation of the IT department was that it ‘just happens’; silently operating in the background to ensure the business is connected and providing a quick fix to any technical issues. However, today's successful CIO is expected to operate in a much more proactive fashion; offering guidance, advising strategy and learning from and appreciating the needs, struggles and priorities of their co-workers. And it is with this habitual change of moving from the isolated ‘IT guy’ to the more integrated team player that will see the roll-out of a more effective digital strategy.

If engrained in each part of the organisation and promoting peer-to-peer collaboration, CIOs can assess the wider context, opportunities and risks that face each segment of the business. By opening up this knowledge, IT leaders are better placed and have great flexibility to inform the direction of a digital strategy. By aligning their priorities, technology officers and other sectoral teams can work together to drive company strategy in the right direction to yield results, as digital technological innovation catapults to the top of the boardroom agenda.

As we continue the stride towards a complete digital economy, perhaps 2016 could be the year to promote a fully collaborative working style and open stream of conversation between departments. This provides a space for negotiation and discussions to take place, driving innovation and combining collective intelligence, as we approach a truly digital future.

Nick Robinson, Client Director at Colt Technology Services

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