Australian CIOs and IT departments are under pressure to drive innovation and business improvement. CEOs, boards, and management teams have high expectations of technology. Technology must do more than get the job done; it must optimise business activity and facilitate new revenue streams. The organisation must be agile and responsive, yet cost-effective. Technology must help make use of data and analytics to improve business decisions. It must make things better and faster. Organisations are looking to CIOs to innovate and use technology to add value to the business.

To best fulfil these expectations, the role of the CIO needs to fundamentally change.

It’s not about the technology; it’s about the business. Australian CIOs must be enabled to be true business managers with an understanding of the business, its challenges, and its trajectory. Only then can they truly bring technology to the table to help move the business forward.

It’s not about the technology; it’s about the business. Australian CIOs must be enabled to be true business managers with an understanding of the business, its challenges, and its trajectory.

The role of the modern CIO should be 30 per cent IT focused and 70 per cent business focused. If your CIO is already there, great! If not, there are ways you, the CEO, can help. If you’re not enabling your CIO to take this approach, you may be hindering progress.

CEOs need to arm their CIOs with a greater understanding of the business, and enable them to focus on identifying and implementing technology that will meet and support business objectives. Perhaps your CIO requires training to shore up his or her business, strategy, or management capabilities. Maybe what’s required is a strategic hire or promotion of someone capable of running the day-to-day workings of the IT team while the CIO focuses on the bigger picture. Your CIO may be ready and raring to go, and all he or she needs is a more consistent seat at the management table.

In addition to assessing your CIO’s needs and challenges, take some time to consider your organisational view of IT and the role of the CIO.

This calls for change from the top down. Organisations have long relied upon their IT departments to be reactive technology problem solvers, on a challenge-by-challenge basis: The business has a process it wants automated, and IT must build or find the right tool. A new regulation has come into effect and IT must participate in a change-management project to bring the company into compliance. The business has a communications challenge, a storage issue, or a new location to open, and it turns to the CIO and the IT team to find and implement the right technological solutions.

These are valid challenges, and technological solutions are required. But imagine if the CIO delegated more, firmed up his or her understanding of the organisation’s big picture and objectives, and combined technical understanding with business strategy to develop a technology roadmap—a roadmap that not only includes the technology required to run your organisation but also to identify new possibilities for revenue, to facilitate growth, and to source tools and applications of value to your employees and customers; a roadmap designed not to solve one current issue, but to make improvements on a larger scale in terms of productivity, cost savings, output, and time to market.

“Ah, that’s more like it!” you say. “How can I help?” you ask. Here are some ideas for your consideration.

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