The Strategic CIO: Transformational CIO building blocks

What are the transformational CIO building blocks that can enable CIOs to drive the business,
as well as support the business?
Rethinking business
In the current economic climate change is pervading business as traditional fundamental
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principles are challenged by many executives. Business functionals are being fundamentally
impacted by developments such as cloud computing, e-commerce and complex customer
purchasing behaviour. Now more than ever is the time for efficiency and cost reduction — the
time for business to get effective help to review their IT construct and get their IT model right.
How should you as a CIO support these business transformations? What are the
transformational CIO building blocks that can enable CIOs to drive the business as well as
support the business?
IT as both driver and supporter
IT is now at the core of businesses such as defence, banking, finance and medicine, and
business models are being redefined in other industries through client-vendor collaborations. As
a CIO, you can inject useful insights into boardroom decision-making by using effectively
captured transactional and customer data to resolve the complexity and help customers to
embrace the changes. This requires balancing people, process and technology to achieve
operational efficiency that is customer centric. One role of new technologies is to fuel growth,
and this daunting management challenge falls to CIOs.
People, process and technology
People always come first, but innovatively melding people with process and technology makes
for a healthy organisation — strong HR is important for high performance. This forms the basis
for the transformational roadmap that will enable IT to drive and support the business in today’s
economy. Your building should be built on the five people-focused business drivers of:
leadership, workforce plan, career plan, organisational training plan and performance
If this model of five business drivers does not exist at the organisational level, their planning and
implementation should form a key part of your transformational roadmap — but this must be
fundamentally aligned with the corporate culture. Leadership gives the purpose and direction,
sound workforce planning ensures a central resource base; individual and succession planning
leads to performance and success; continual training drives performance; and performance
management achieves clarity of roles and responsibilities of teams and individuals.
If IT does not currently support the core business process, re-engineering business process may
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be necessary for organisational success. Building on any existing basic maturity, Cobit can
deliver the reference framework for process architecture, Six Sigma can enable process
improvement by working out your burning platform, reducing costs, just-in-time, eliminating
waste, etc., and CMMI will give an overall understanding of the business maturity level and
provide a framework to move from one level to another.
The technology of information, applications and infrastructure must be aligned with people and
process, which drive technology choices including strategy, architecture, information
management, security, and numerous other facets.
The CIO must work on all three levels — people, process, technology — with deep
understanding if he/she is to achieve a transformational business model that aligns with,
supports and drives the business.
The CIO’s strategy — the transformational building blocks
As a CIO new to an organisation or one within an organisation that needs transformation, what
are the building blocks upon which your transformational roadmap will be built?
Within an underlying methodology of consultation, communication and collaboration, your plan
— perhaps a 100-day plan to provide focus — will progressively encompass the building blocks
scoping and organising;
IT strategy development coupled closely with business and competitive assessment;
assessment of the current business state within that business/competitor/IT strategy
environment; and
IT opportunities R&D.
Scoping and organising entails identification of IT deliverables to the business, being organised,
fashioning a key leadership team and, most important, getting executive sponsorship and
If no IT strategy exists, develop one; if it exists, ensure it is simple and align it to the business.
Make sure you have one. A plan-on-a-page (POAP) that will hit targets, a proprietary strategy
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that focuses on mobility and access to secure information, and strong branding should be
central elements of your IT strategy. Bring these together into strategic plans with clear
achievement milestones in the short term and longer term. And finally, use the power of virtual
teams to make your strategy effective and synergistic.
A business and competitor assessment should be made in parallel with IT strategy development,
because IT strategy needs business strategy and vice versa. This can be facilitated with a
balance scorecard that assesses and aligns business and IT strategy and integrates the CIO
transformational strategy automatically. For example, if a business subdivision is envisaged,
identify opportunities and the support needed; if mergers or acquisitions are happening, how can
you position IT to support business systems and reduce acquisition cost? Do a competitor
market assessment integrated into business assessment. Arrange investment funding and
ensure you have the CFO’s support to execute the transformation.
Undertake a current state assessment to determine what is good, mediocre and poor; identify
gaps, overlaps, opportunities, constraints and lessons learned.
Identify IT opportunities through a consultation blitz with all stakeholders — business and your
team — summarise outcomes in the context already developed, and develop the technology
roadmap. The roadmap needs quick wins plus, typically, 3-year and 5-year maps. Focus on the
execution of programs and projects, skills and resources, and be aware constantly of what you
have and what you need.
At no stage of the transformation should the CIO forget the underlying methodology of
consultation, communication and collaboration. Measures of your success may include: your
ability to align IT with business, to absorb unexpected business changes, to be agile enough to
enable rapid change, to reduce costs and deliver more, and to achieve faster and better
decision-making with reduced risk.
For example, an HP transformational strategy achieved: faster application
development/deployment, easier integration of new acquisitions, faster response to changing
business needs, improved operational effectiveness and quality of service, and improved
business continuity and security, and they did this while also achieving 50% reduction in IT
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operational spending, 60% reduced energy consumption, and 50% reduction in networking
Their strategies included consolidating and unifying disparate teams, improved technology
portfolio management, more strategic project management, upgrading the workforce, creating
centres of excellence and collaboration, executing the right strategies with the right cost
structures while maintaining agility, replacing hundreds of disparate intelligence systems by
building a model enterprise data warehouse, and consolidating 85 data centres to six global
data centres in three locations.
Successful implementation of the transformational building blocks will depend upon innovative
consolidation and automation, effective information management and application of cloud
computing, and also renewable energy savings.
The decisions we make in our lives as CIOs will dictate the life we live… over to you!
Bruce Carlos is Chief Information Officer for CenITex, the Centre for IT Excellence, an ICT
shared services agency set up by the Victorian Government to centralise ICT support to
government departments and agencies. He is also a founding member of the CIO Executive
Council of Australia and former CIO of Raytheon Australia.
In the current economic climate businesses need CIOs such a Bruce Carlos to identify gaps,
overlaps and opportunities, provide direction and give a kick start to developing transformational
roadmaps. Bruce Carlos can offer expertise as a senior IT executive specialising in IT
transformation and business unit cost optimisation in diverse industries and a strategic view of
the technology and leadership skills that businesses should focus on to manage IT and business
leadership portfolios successfully. Bruce can be contacted at a href=””
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