Today’s technology executives are at the forefront of change in the corporate landscape. Artificial intelligence advancements, remote and hybrid working models, increased cybersecurity threats, adoption of cloud computing, and other factors mean that IT leaders must anticipate and implement solutions to tackle current and future challenges. In this blog, we will explore how CIOs can be successful and effective agents of change within their organizations.
Familiarity and utilization of emerging technologies play a large part in determining the market leaders of tomorrow, and businesses are counting on employees at all levels to understand and utilize them (or risk being left behind and replaced). It’s no surprise that over 85% of CIOs surveyed by CIO.com said that their roles are evolving to focus more on digital transformation and innovation, and 84% said that they are becoming more involved in spearheading digital transformation initiatives.1
With more organizations counting on CIOs to implement, adopt, and scale initiatives across all levels of their workforces, CIOs require some change management skills to succeed. We recommend the following strategies to help drive successful change:
1. Understand your role as an executive change leader
As a member of the executive team, CIOs possess a unique advantage in getting change initiatives off the ground. Experiencing hurdles with executive sponsorship is a common pain point for change management professionals (which you can read more about here). As a change leader, you must understand your role and have a top-to-bottom comprehension of the change initiative at hand.
To become an effective change leader, work with change professionals to understand project and budget needs, bridge gaps across divisions, and create accountability for your proposed transformation. You should also communicate regularly to your organization about the change, so employees don’t view it as another temporary idea they don’t need to take seriously.
2. Assess the need and impact of your transformation
It’s critical that executives leading change are proactively preparing for the outcome of their transformation. By embedding themselves with their team and end users, CIOs can gain valuable insight into how these groups are currently working and what may be required during and after a change initiative.
By spending time with these internal and external groups, CIOs can determine what systems and processes need to be updated, what resources are necessary for user adoption (i.e., training), and any impacts of the change. By understanding all of this, it’s possible CIOs may decide the best course of action is not to undergo the change initiative. It may sound counterintuitive, but if the existing technology sufficiently meets your organization’s needs and/or there are significant hurdles to adoption, you must be prepared to communicate that to stakeholders and executives. For additional reading, we recommend checking out our blog on embracing innovation here.
3. Follow the data
Along with spending time with stakeholders and end users, leverage data-driven insights and decision-making when considering or implementing change. Technology leaders have access to a treasure trove of data, with many of today’s business systems and platforms providing extensive reports on user adoption, productivity, revenue, and more.2
External data can be just as relevant as internal data when evaluating change, so stay current with emerging trends within your industry and across the business landscape. Following trade publications, market reports, industry leaders, and economic conditions can help you determine where to look for transformation opportunities.
4. Effectively communicate with stakeholders
Keep in mind that many individuals don’t speak the same technology “language” as a CIO, so it’s critical that you communicate effectively with stakeholders. Consider using a variety of mediums and resources when communicating about business transformation. For example, it might be better to highlight financial impacts and budgets when speaking to finance stakeholders, where utilizing a roadmap may be better suited for those involved with operations.
Another key to effective communication when it comes to changing initiatives is consistent messaging. It is important to keep employees engaged in the transformation, so they keep it top of mind and don’t view it as a ”flash in the pan” they don’t need to take seriously.
5. Stay informed of emerging technologies and threats
One of the best things you can do for your organization as a CIO is continually monitor emerging and disruptive technologies. For example, machine learning and generative AI are becoming more widely utilized across the business landscape. It is up to you as the CIO to determine where and how these technologies can be deployed – if there is potential for cost savings, efficiencies, or productivity increases.
That said, you must also remain vigilant of any potential threats posed by emerging or existing technologies. Cyber-attacks have increased over the past several years, with criminals using strategies such as ransomware and data breaches to inflict severe damage.3 By staying informed, you can set an example for all employees to build a more technology-literate workforce.
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