Transforming IT: 5 Tips for Helping CIOs Think and Act like CEOs

By Datalink

A recent IDG/Datalink survey of IT leaders at large U.S. companies revealed that strategic business goals, rather than traditional considerations like IT refreshes, are increasingly driving IT spending decisions. In fact, 68% of respondents believe that strategic objectives are given higher priority than IT initiatives. Among the top objectives are improving IT security (cited by 70% of respondents), improving client experiences and managing costs (both at 59%), and mitigating risk (44%).

It has become clear that the business wants more from today’s CIO and the IT organization. As a result, IT leaders are finding they must take on a new role, for their own good as well as that of the business. How can they successfully define a new, more central position for IT, and think and act more like a CEO? Based on our experience in the field and the results from our survey, here are some tips:

Shed IT’s old skin. IT leaders must change their focus from delivering technology that is adequate for the task at hand to implementing systems and processes that make it easier to achieve strategic goals. Adopting a CEO’s laser focus on business outcomes will help raise IT’s profile within the organization and position IT as a strategic business partner.

Connect IT investment with business outcomes. The importance of drawing attention to the connection between IT spend and business outcomes was one of the top takeaways from the survey. 70% of respondents felt this was a critical or very important issue, but just 47% believe their organization is doing this especially well. It is critical for CIOs to align proposed IT investments with outcomes and measure and report results.

Push for change on multiple levels. In order to effectively transform IT’s role, IT executives must simultaneously work on changing everything from mindsets and processes, to underlying technologies and platforms.

Be more proactive. The results of the IDG survey clearly pointed to the importance of IT taking the lead on key business initiatives. “Business success starts here” can and should be the mantra of IT organizations.

Prepare for some growing pains. What we’re seeing today in IT isn’t a minor course correction, it’s a sea change. IT must evolve into a new kind of organization, and evolution is never easy. Knowing that there will be challenges you must work through will help you be prepared for them.

Looking Ahead
IT’s role two years from now will look very different than it does today. CIOs who begin to think and act like a CEO now will be in the best position to take advantage of the changes that are already underway to increase IT’s impact on the overall success of the business. View survey results here.