CIO = Chief Influencing Officer

The large organisation of today is increasingly reliant on technology and the IT teams that support it; banks are often considered to be large IT platforms which enable banking services.

Even engineering and product organisations see their IT as being mission critical; production lines would shut down, distribution would suffer, CRM and marketing would be impacted.

Unfortunately the CIO role across many industries has not kept pace with the changing expectations of the partnership role that it needs to play at the executive level.

Business people are going straight to the market for new software, starting their own innovative partnerships and bypassing the CIO to get the IT game-changers they need to transform themselves.

CIOs need to run the IT assets but they also need to be the go-to people in an organisation when change and transformation can be enabled with technology.

Often this touches on self-disruption and new ways of working that can be uncomfortable and which require leadership to set vision and direction that keeps the proverbial plane flying while one of the main engines is replaced.

The technology and skills do exist, but it takes leadership to orchestrate the programmes and plans that actually deliver the value in partnership with business who ultimately own the outcome.

Read: “Creating connections”

The entrepreneurial and empowering culture at FNB is conducive to this approach, you can give people a job and trust them to get on with it.

It’s also important to work out what’s next, and part of that is creating an environment in which people can experiment and fail without breaking anything.

In FNB Business we have built a new banking sales platform which makes use of the latest technology and offers straight through processing all the way from front-end client experience to our core transactional systems.

A new business account can be opened seamlessly, the customer will even get an SMS with their new account number within minutes.

Read: “A two-speed IT architecture for the digital enterprise”

Combining a stable transactional core with an innovative front end for client experience is a common objective for large organisations.

The so-called 2-speed IT architecture enables four capabilities according to McKinsey; speed to market, multi-channel client experience, advanced analytics and automation.

The CIO must influence the IT resources and teams to think in this way, as well as experiment and adapt to fast changing business requirements.

The new Agile and DevOps ways of delivering projects and providing application support is evidence of such evolution in the industry.

Leadership is all about influence; moving people’s mindset to a new but common objective that lifts everyone and delivers measurable value.

There will always be hype and excitement about the future and what it will look like – it’s only the leaders with sufficient influence that can take a team or an organisation successfully on the journey.

The CIO is the custodian of an organisation’s IT assets, but the people who run them and own them require leadership to be effective; a dual role that challenges today’s CIO to move from information to influence.

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