Beyond Impact Blog

If I Were Still A CIO: 14 BIG Questions I Would Ask

Jan 22, 2015 2:20:00 PM / by Mark Baumbach

Thinking about this week’s blog, I found myself contemplating “what if I were still a CIO…”? What questions would be at top of mind? In some ways the questions probably have not changed much in five years but, the technology certainly has advanced in multiple directions.

My eight-year tenure as CIO for a public company involved in media and legal services saw dizzying changes – Web 2.0, virtualization, the introduction of cloud computing, social media, mobile, smartphone, apps of all flavors, BYOD, Twitter, IaaS, PaaS,… XaaS.

Now, in the years that have followed, the pace of technology innovation has increased proportional to Moore’s Law that roughly states that computing capacity doubles every 18 to 24 months. Only now after 50+ years, every iteration from here on out is on top of an already huge reservoir of computing and storage potential. We can see the inventors, entrepreneurs, and innovative technology firms tapping into that ever expanding capacity. Big data, BYOWD (Wearable Device), Internet of Anything, predictive analytics, dev/ops, virtual datacenters, 3D printing, and web connected sensors galore. About 50% of the world is connected online making is possible for important innovations such as: Google Hangouts bringing us virtual wine tasting. Keeping up is fun, exhilarating, and exhausting! Sort of like a marathon of 100-yard-dashes.

As CIO, one cannot afford to be distracted or enamored with all the new bells and whistles. They will certainly overwhelm you if you do. So I repeat a mantra to myself that I’ve heard over the years, Its not the technology… it’s the business capabilities and capacity that technology enables. Big data is not about the data; it is about the insight the enables better decision making.

For me, the key to not getting lost in the forest of technological potential is discipline in staying focused on the organization’s mission, priorities, and goals. One must ensure that your portfolio of technology initiatives and operations is in alignment. It is a constant part of the CIO’s job to balance discipline with flexibility, and to continually address the right questions.

My conclusion - the questions have not changed… but the opportunities for technology to positively impact decision making, the customer experience, and operations, certainly have. The era of transforming the business model through innovative application of technology has arrived. For example… Novartis CEO, Joseph Jimenez, wrote of his vision to use technologies in daily use, like smart phones and tablets, to enable patients to manage their own health and monitor patient progress remotely. (1)

Anyway, assuming there is alignment and understanding, here are 14 big tactical questions I would “still” be asking as CIO:

  • How is my role changing, how should it change in a world of CDOs, CMOs, CSOs, CXtechOs?
  • Do we have the right team?
  • Where are we going to get the talent with the right skills and experience?
  • What technology bets do we make and how do we avoid choosing poooorly?
  • How can we eliminate IT project failures and ensure that we meet business needs and exceed expectations?
  • How does IT enable growth and innovation?
  • How does our architecture change to meet new demands?
  • What do we do with legacy applications?
  • How does our technology roadmap provide meaningful direction and ensure flexibility to incorporate unforeseeable innovation?
  • How do we balance security and technology adoptions?
  • How do we ensure adoption of innovative solutions?
  • How do we maximize the business value of our IT budget ?       While fitting in support, maintenance, and risk management?
  • How do we reduce unnecessary complexity? Complexity drives up costs and inhibits organizational agility which is opposite of most of us envision.
  • How do we make strategic use of outsourcing and our vendor relationships?

How does this align with your thoughts? What priorities/questions would you address and in what order?

1. Novartis Annual Report, 2012. http://goo.gl/48sDFH

– by Mark Baumbach // Senior Management Consultant @ Beyond Impact — 

Tags: Business Strategy, Leadership, Transformation

Mark Baumbach

Written by Mark Baumbach

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