IT, a business partner and nothing else

If your aim for the C-Suite is mainly to prove that geeks can become executives too, then you may be in for the short-haul and smarter techheads may be ousting you soon or you may just dissolve into oblivion and irrelevance.

No enterprise need code spitting, network analysing, system designing, techies. But, a service oriented, process driven, result based, power contributor to the bottom line (directly if a technology business, and indirectly if not).

It is no gainsaying, that no serious enterprise of any size can survive beyond the ideation stage today, without the use of technology. But, there are also many examples of IT not making quantifiable/meaningful contributions to the bottom line – for many reasons including the erroneous perception and acceptance by many key stakeholders, of IT as a support add-on to the enterprise as opposed to being seen and accepted as a key player in the enterprise’s value creation and consumption chains. Sometimes, the embers of this negative perception are fanned into flames by the absolute confusion created by IT (deliberately or inadvertently) about the inner workings of IT – don’t get it twisted, IT may be quite a difficulty to understand or explain, what with all the buzz words thrown around by marketers (today everything is either big data or cloud computing), the general confusion that IT is one and only thing, changing/restrictive/non-universal legislation, increasingly complex IT and business models, information security/vulnerability etc.

As such, it is important that the CIO (or an aspirant), speak the language of his employers’ business and evangelise using that same language – nobody loves geekese!

The CIO’s seat at the table isn’t as much a right, rather it is a value adding opportunity. It should thus, not be arrogantly occupied, but confidentently propagated.

So on your way up (or in staying up), you need to constantly ask (and task yourself on): how can IT contribute to value creation and capture process(es). That perhaps is why other business units have attained and stayed relevant over the years.

In the recently published ‘the CIO DNA’ report (embedded below), Ernst and Young  analysed the changing role of the CIO and argued some of the required skills for staying relevant and on top of the game. (If pdf does not load below, download the report directly from EY’s website by clicking here.

All the best in your aspiration an work.

Oluwakorede Asuni works for an international non-profit where he acts in the capacity of a CIO – though not substansively appointed to the role.

He advocates a service based approach to the delivery of IT/IS and he believes and advocates that technology should serve the interest of the business, contribute to the bottom line and should just work.

He created the CIVICUS Technology Pack in 2011 (a basket of appropriate productivity tools for use by non-profits) and ran short workshops dealing with technology adoption by small enterprises and non-profits at 2011 CIVICUS World Assembly in Montreal Canada.

In his spare time, he writes about appropriate as well as open source technologies and attempts to answer technology related questions for small non-profits and individuals.

He lives in Johannesburg South Africa.

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