How Transformational Is Your Association CIO (or IT Leader)?

David DeLorenzo | 12.18.18
Topics: CIO - Digital Transformation - IT Maturity

Is your association CIO focused on what matters most?

business-3686656_640The role of the association CIO (or technology leader) is evolving before our eyes as associations adapt to a world full of disruption and change. But, associations aren’t the only organizations adjusting their approach to technology. It’s clear from reading the Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey 2018 that CIOs all over the world are facing the same technology challenges as association CIOs.

The CIO Survey 2018 report is based on responses from nearly 4,000 IT leaders on issues like board priorities, technology strategy, and the role of the CIO. In fact, the report’s subtitle is The Transformational CIO, a nod to the ever-changing role and impact of an organization’s CIO.

Association CIO as Strategic Partner

IT as a cost function is dead. The role of the CIO needs to evolve to reflect this reality if they want to remain a strategic partner to the business. – Denis Berry, partner, KPMG in the U.S.

Two-thirds (65%) of the CIOs surveyed are part of their organization’s executive team, and the same number said the role of the CIO is becoming more strategic.

The CIO must be seen as a mission-enabling strategic partner—to every department head and every member of the executive team. A strategic CIO works with the executive team to influence and guide staff and leaders on using digital technology to transform the organization.

Digital as Transformation Accelerator

Digital is everywhere. And so should the CIO be. Few executives have such a complete view of the enterprise, or the wide trust of their peers. – Bob Miano, president & CEO, Harvey Nash USA

The role of the CIO is significantly more likely to be strategic if the organization has a digital strategy or is very/extremely effective at using digital technology to advance business strategy.

  • Does your organization have a digital strategy and, therefore, take a holistic approach to using digital technology to achieve both departmental and strategic goals?
  • Or, are digital strategies only being used in silos to pursue departmental goals?

If your association is struggling with digital transformation, don’t be discouraged. Only one-third (32%) of survey participants had an organization-wide digital vision and strategy in place.

  • 28% said only some individual business units had a digital strategy.
  • 31% are working on a digital strategy.
  • And 9% report no strategy.

CIOs who have an enterprise-wide digital strategy are more likely to enjoy IT budget increases next year. So, if you’re still working on a digital strategy, know that the investment of time is worth it.

CIOs need to go beyond the technology [to] position digital as a business transformation accelerator and revenue generator. – Phil Crozier, partner, KPMG in the UK

The Culture Factor

Creativity and governance are not easy bedfellows. But much of the strength of the CIO role will come from balancing the two. – Bridget Gray, MD, Harvey Nash Australia

The report pointed to a few factors that play a role in digital strategy success. 85% of CIOs believe an innovative and experimental culture is “essential” or “quite important” to their digital strategy’s success.

  • How would you rate your association’s culture in innovation and experimentation?
  • How might your culture stand in the way of enhancing the member experience or attracting new members (and customers)?
  • How might your culture stand in the way of fully leveraging your technology’s potential?

leading-3580742_640Organizations that can successfully redesign business processes are “far more likely to report success in their digital transformation efforts.”

  • How likely is your association to change a system (through upgrade or replacement) or a process (through redesign)?
  • How would you rate your association on change management? How might you improve that rating?

Transformational CIOs instill “digital discipline” in their team and throughout the organization by integrating business processes using digital technology, and spreading an innovation culture of “test and learn” and evidence-based decision-making.

A good leader is a person able to change the organization. A great leader is a person able to change the mindset of people. – Vivien Resdat, Director Central IT, Röchling Automotive SE & Co. KG, Germany

Focus on the Member Experience

A CIO who doesn’t have a forensic understanding of who the customer is, and what drives them, is doing their job with one hand tied behind their back. – Guy Holland, partner, KPMG in Australia

The survey asked CIOs to self-identify as “customer-centric leaders,” “digital leaders,” and other labels. The operational priorities of customer-centric and digital leaders are quite different from other survey participants. 47% of customer-centric leaders and 45% of digital leaders focus on “driving revenue growth” in comparison to the average of 38%.

Customer-centric and digital leaders are also more likely to “develop innovative products and services” and “improve their time to market.” The report says:

This focus on meeting the needs of the customer and driving revenue is a key differentiator for these leaders and appears to come at a price; they are less likely to focus on ‘improving business processes,’ ‘saving costs,’ and ‘increasing operational efficiencies.’
  • How does your CIO or IT leader compare? Are they included in executive and board discussions about future opportunities and strategies?
  • Are they invited to departmental conversations about new member programs, services, and products?
  • Does your staff see your CIO or IT leader as their in-house technology and change consultant?

The report also identified “greater customer engagement” as an attribute of a transformational CIO. These leaders build a single view of the customer across all channels, and invest in digital technologies that enhance the customer experience.

  • Does your CIO or IT leader take the lead in building a single view of the member (customer, attendee, revenue partner, or prospect) across the organization?
  • Do high-level conversations take place about improving the member experience? Is the CIO involved in those discussions?

Ceding Control, Gaining Influence

We are seeing a new breed of successful IT leaders emerging, people who are ‘giving up’ the control they have, in favor of growing influence. – Natalie Whittlesey, director, Harvey Nash UK

The report says successful CIOs are swapping control for influence. They’re taking an active role in embracing shadow IT, bringing it out into the light of governance and support.

CIOs (and aspiring CIOs) must build relationships and trust with department heads and staff so they see you as their in-house technology consultant. Be the one who proactively helps them do their jobs better. You can’t just raise red flags—you must provide solutions as well.

  • Does staff see the CIO (or IT leader) as an in-house consultant who can help them define technology needs, and select/implement new technology?
  • Or is the CIO (or IT department) left out of these conversations?

Make an effort to understand your association’s membership, strategic goals, and departmental goals and needs.

You need to dedicate time to developing relationships and understanding where IT can add value to the association’s work. Your efforts to develop empathy for your colleagues will get you invited to meetings from which you were previously excluded, even at the top table.

Now, more than ever, CIOs have a fantastic opportunity to broaden their influence and value in their organization. They must act on this or risk missing the train. – Lisa Heneghan, partner, KPMG in the UK

As CIO, you can be the leader who can help transform your organization so it’s better positioned to advance its mission and achieve its goals.

Which people, processes, tools, and talent are in your CIO's bag?

About David DeLorenzo

Lifelong association guy and Volunteer, David brings a sharp, C-level perspective to our clients and our blog.

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