I am still struck with the difference between UK CIOs and those of other countries, especially the US.
There is a diffidence about the technology here – sometimes verging on a suppression of demonstrating knowledge or enthusiasm for it. I think the days are going when it is acceptable for a board member to state that they don’t understand the technology. My view is that has shifted to a statement, if any is necessary, that they don’t understand how the technology works and an acceptance that to use it for business benefit they don’t have to, because their CIO does. Hence my concern that UK CIOs are too diffident about that knowledge.
I was with an Austrian CIO a couple of days ago who was very enthusiastic for new technologies. She had just been at the first paperless board meeting (iPad driven) which had worked very well, and there was an increasing view from the top of the company that innovation in their business would come from clever uses of technology. That focus was also driven by a feeling that their competitors might get there first.
At one of our recent Advisory Board meetings we were discussing how 80% of the spend went on stopping the wrong things happening. Security is part of that of course, but also in application design and creation (whether in house or externally) most of it isn’t about making the right thing happen.
MacDailyNews (the name may alert you to a bias) recently ran an article bluntly stating that CIOs still stifle creativity in many organisation with a fixation on Microsoft and lockdown. CIO Connect were more measured when we said 18 months ago that it was time for CIOs to migrate away from trying to control everything, and focus on those things that now matter.
Suppression of enthusiasm, plus excessive control leads to stagnation (or in sparkier businesses people just get on with it bypassing IT through the proliferation of cloud services).
With BYOD now real for many CIOs and social media usage starting to make an impact I see many CIOs engaging with HR to address these issues in the right place. There doesn’t have to be a technical solution to everything – some problems are line management issues.
In digital businesses (or digital business units) the business stems from a widespread knowledge and understanding of technology. IT’s role is to supply tools and maintain interoperability. That is helpful and valuable in traditional businesses too. The Austrian CIO I mentioned was in a business that relies on heavy engineering, steel and production lines, so is hardly a new “weightless” business.
It’s ok to like technology and to be knowledgeable about it. If there are some new technologies that can benefit your business talk about them, make them happen and bring your colleagues at all levels in the business up to speed on those things.
And so you know, this was written in Word for Mac 2011, stored in Microsoft’s SharePoint and published through WordPress (soon to be replaced by SharePoint). And no, I have no idea if there was a business benefit from using the Mac, other than it made me feel better using it.