13 years, 6 months ago

The New CIO Definition where "I" Stands for Innovation

Link: http://eamitabh.blogspot.com/2010/11/new-cio-definition-where-i-stands-for.html

I recently came across an article in the Business Week where CIO profile was outlined (and very well if I may add) as the Chief Innovation Officer and not as Chief Information Officer which you and I would readily recognise. I enjoyed reading through the article but the interesting thing to note was that not once the CIO (innovation) profile was spotted to be overlapping with the CIO (information) profile. The author Mark Johnson from innovation consulting and research firm, Innosight presents a good analysis for the need of CIO (innovation) role and also outlines key functions of this role such as “devising the language of innovation”, “testing assumption with prototyping” and “using structure to unlock creativity”.

Extending Mark’s thoughts further, I began thinking and comparing the typical role of CIO (information) with that of CIO (innovation). I do see some natural extensions of abilities which a competent CIO should possess. A good CIO should understand the language of the organisation as he / she serves a cross-section of business unit customers. Prototyping should be one of the core abilities for a CIO. And cross-delivery functions of modern IT dependent organisations should help him / her to unlock the creativity. So on the face of it a good competent and credible CIO should be easily double up as CIO (innovation).

The question however is will organisations trust or want their technology functions to lead path to innovation. Or would they rather drive this from commercial, functional or marketing perspective?  It can also be argued that, CIOs are already one or two steps ahead in the game of innovation given their leadership in automation, optimisation aspects. Either way the CIO (information) should play a major role in enabling and making the innovation plans successful.

The Economist Intelligence Unit executive insight report states, in many organisations, the recession has provided an opportunity for CIOs to cement the role of technology at the centre of innovation in their organisations, and enhance their personal authority as innovation leaders. The demonstration of tough cost discipline in their own budgets along with more convincing business cases for IT-led projects have helped many CIOs to capitalise on this opportunity.

The caution however should be maintained not to expect CIOs to deliver Innovation as part of their existing mandate, resources and budget. As the above Economist report suggests, severe budget stringency has forced many CIOs to develop a higher level of cost discipline for IT projects than had been the norm prior to the downturn. However, if the organisation truly expects to undertake innovation encompassing not just technology but well-rounded functional, commercial and marketing then it does need to invest in this function.  Such an empowered CIO (information) should certainly be able to stand up to the challenges of new and evolving role of CIO (innovation) as Mark defines in his article. In fact it can be argued that once such investments and mandates have established, IT probably is the best function available in an organisation to drive innovation forward!