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How CIOs can create the change they want to see

(Image credit: Image Credit: thinkpublic / Flickr)

The role of the CIO is constantly changing. According to the 2020 State of The CIO report, 95 per cent of CIOs say their role is expanding to include new capabilities. As organisations experience digital transformation, CIOs across all industries are also transforming the way they build technology and technology teams.

Traditionally, CIOs oversaw the purchase and implementation of software and maintained systems throughout the business. Today, it’s about building technology within the company through engineering and innovative practices. This change in mindset is not limited to the tech industry, as CIOs in all lines of business can benefit from adopting the same practices to stay ahead in today’s market through the creation of nimble products and by building agile, highly functioning teams.

Creating transformation

CIOs are becoming increasingly involved in leading digital transformation compared to their business counterparts. Nearly 40 per cent of CIOs cite leading digital transformation initiatives as a top priority for 2020, which is a relatively new focus for the role, stemming from the evolution of technology over the last decade.

The transition to cloud technology, in particular, was a game-changer for CIOs because it allowed technology to become a service that is deployed immediately in a plug and play approach. This created a greater need for software engineering within organisations across all industries and acted as the first catalyst in the mindset shift to creating long-term innovation, not just standalone products.

Cloud technology also set a precedent for a new level of connectivity among people, both in their personal lives and professionally. As new innovations have continued to connect people to peers and information faster and easier than ever, the expectation and need for greater connectivity became apparent in the business environment as well. 

Today, employees expect connectivity far beyond access to business systems and servers. CIOs must create connectivity across the entire organisation and approach implementation first by determining what business capability their organisation is trying to solve or create, and then using technology as the catalyst to solve for it. It isn’t always about utilising the latest solution just because it is available, but rather how to strategically use technology to add value and build specific business capabilities.

Embracing change

Technology companies are expected to deliver products quickly and efficiently. If there is an issue that needs to be fixed, it must be done almost immediately to maintain a positive user experience. How is this possible when the tech landscape is changing constantly? It starts with building products and teams with change in mind. The companies who design capabilities and architecture in anticipation of future transformation are far outpacing their competitors.

Part of building a strong and nimble technology architecture is bringing the right parties to the table to create seamless practices that break down silos and incorporate technology, development and security. This philosophy known as DevSecOps combines security practices with technology development and operations. As security has become a critical component in the face of rising concerns about data protection, instead of taking reactive action, security must now be a part of the development process and initial conversation, anticipating changes to threats and assessing potential risks from a product’s inception through its full lifespan.

If technology isn’t adaptable and secure, things like tech debt and an aging digital foundation can hold organisations back from future innovations. Technology must be able to quickly and efficiently evolve as companies move forward to keep up with the speed of the marketplace. Through flexible architecture and nimble practices, monolithic technology can become a thing of the past.

Building the right team

In addition to building product capabilities that are adaptable, companies must also create teams that are just as nimble. Here’s where the leadership of the CIO can make a large impact. By creating an environment of empowerment and support, teammates are more willing to embrace, react and adapt to change. With the combination of agile processes and architecture, and equally lithe employees in their technology department, organisations can be better prepared to lead in the ever-changing technology landscape.

Ensuring highly efficient teams are in play during a time when tech unemployment is at an all-time low is incredibly challenging. More than ever, companies must be unique in their approach to attracting, retaining and developing top talent. One way CIOs are beginning to expand their candidate pool is by incorporating behavioural based interviewing into the hiring process to identify individuals who have the aptitude for technology instead of focusing solely on experience.

According to the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), behavioural interviewing focuses on a potential candidate’s past experiences by invoking responses that show how he or she has demonstrated certain skills, knowledge and aptitude. By focusing on past experiences, a candidate’s actual experience level and potential to handle similar situations is revealed. Many organisations consider behavioural based interviewing as the most effective type of interview technique and have incorporated this style into their talent sources process.

Evaluating candidates based on more than just skill, considering overall potential, ability to work with others and attitude, opens the possibility of placing qualified talent in tech roles that might have otherwise been overlooked if a company was focused only on what’s on paper.

Be the transformation

By leading the digital and cultural transformations necessary to keep pace in today’s market, CIOs can better position their companies and their teammates for success. Technology was once a supporting role in business, but today it is imperative to the bottom line for organisations in any industry.

Angelic Gibson, Chief Information Officer, AvidXchange