Tomorrow’s CIO Becomes an Organizational Catalyst

By: Babette Ten Haken| - Leave a comment


Can the CIO become an organizational catalyst? IoT-connected (Internet of Things) companies are looking forward to the potential offered by Big Data, analytics and algorithms. However, their current operational and attitudinal wheels are mired in legacy infrastructure and mindset.

The CIO (Chief Information Technology Officer) as organizational catalyst grates against the traditional role of the CIO as shepherd of IT infrastructure stability. The legacy functionality of IT (information technology) within corporations is one of data and information service provider for business and operational units.

Yet the wheels of transformational change already are in motion.

The 2015 Economist White Paper, sponsored by Teradata Corp., explores current rates of Big Data utilization in organizations. Findings from many of the 362 companies surveyed showcase that legacy IT mindset still prevails. The cart is acquired before the horse. These companies will upgrade technology platforms and obtain new tools first, then try to retrofit onto legacy systems. Finally they realize they need to search for the right talent.

The 2015 SAP-sponsored Forrester Study on how the Internet of Things (IoT) is transforming business operations models, reports that 75% of the 366 IT and business leaders surveyed do not feel their corporate leadership is ready to assume the perceived risk and complexity of IoT deployments.

The 2015 SAS-sponsored Industry Week webinar on the ROI (Return on Investment) of the IoT (Internet of Things) showcases manufacturers who are overwhelmed by the tsunami of Big Data being generated by smart machines in smart factories. Many of these companies remain internally-focused on extracting insights about operational efficiencies. They are not as externally-focused on the customer as they should be. They struggle to find the right people with the right type of analytical capabilities to make sense out of their raw data chaos.

Tomorrow’s CIO is the right person with the right stuff. They are not a manager or director of operations. Their focus:  extracting value from how their services catalyze innovation for their own company and their clients’ organizations.

The CIO as organizational catalyst is holistic: s/he combines right and left brain thinking into their leadership activities. They combine the practical with the theoretical. They simultaneously think strategically as well as tactically.

Tomorrow’s CIO creates partnerships across internal departments, liberating customer insights from being historically sequestered and “owned” by specific business units.  They explore how and why their clients continue to wrestle with technology acquisition, implementation, utilization and value creation. They are educators and evangelizers.

The CIO becomes an organizational catalyst when they lead by example, communicating lessons learned from their own team’s experiences across their organization to other teams. They challenge other internal groups to continuously ask: “What if?” and “Why not?” instead of falling back on: “But we’ve always done things this way.”

Over the next few months, we will deep-dive into how and why tomorrow’s CIO leverages four key insights to catalyze collaboration and innovation:

IT is an Organizational Common Denominator. IT in all its forms, is the common denominator running throughout all internal departments in any organization. IT is the common denominator in your clients’ organizations as well. All employees, from administrator to C-Suite, must overcome their IT reluctance and/or discomfort and learn to think and speak from both a data-centric and customer-oriented perspective.

IT is Translational, Transactional and Transitional. Tomorrow’s CIO will walk the IT talk throughout their organization into their customers’ organizations. They catalyze business growth and innovation by translating how data acquisition and analytics processes create transactional value for their company and their clients’ organizations. Tomorrow’s CIO becomes an infrastructure architect as they transition  bimodal IT models towards a unified IT model understood, utilized and valued by the entire organization.

IT professionals are part of a collaborative workforce. That workforce will be comprised of IT professionals who combine hybridized right- and left-brain skill sets targeted to the industrialized internet. Tomorrow’s CIO will do more than lead siloed groups of coders or engineers. They will hire a workforce into a corporate culture the CIO has co-created with the C-Suite team. Tomorrow’s IT professionals will deploy their skills throughout the organization, to create productive, profitable, enduring and innovative business outcomes for their company and their clients.

IT-savvy leaders are tomorrow’s CEO. Tomorrow’s organizational leaders will be required to have more than a superficial knowledge of analytics, applications and algorithms. The blueprint for tomorrow’s organizational cultures will select for business and technical leaders with hybridized and collaborative skill sets. Their function? Change Leadership.

The current pace of technological transformation is straining the tolerances of IT functionality. The future of technological transformation stretches across the boundaries of siloed business models which once discretely contained IT operations.

The Economist White Paper found that 68% of leaders in data-driven organizations perceived that they outperformed their competitors. 78% felt their corporate cultures were more creative and innovative.

As a result, tomorrow’s CIO morphs into organizational catalyst: a role and function incorporating technical savvy with deep insight about organizational culture and operational as well as business dynamics.




About The Author

Babette Ten Haken

Founder & President, Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC

Babette Ten Haken is a catalyst, corporate strategist and facilitator. She writes, speaks, consults and coaches about how cross-functional team collaboration revolutionizes the industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) value chain for customer loyalty, customer success and customer retention. Her One Millimeter Mindset™ programs draw from her background as a scientist, sales professional, enterprise-level facilitator, Six Sigma Green Belt and certified DFSS Voice of the Customer practitioner. Babette’s playbook of technical / non-technical collaboration hacks, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon. Visit the Free Resources section of her website for more tools.

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