Business Transformation

How CIOs Are Assessing Their Strategic Priorities

CIO priorities are shifting toward more strategic roles, away from a singular focus on technology. Australia Securities Exchange CIO discusses why, and VMware’s CIO Assessment tool helps technology leaders better understand organizational goals.

Not too long ago, nearly half of technology leaders felt their departments were primarily cost centers or service providers.[1] Since then, we have seen a shift in CIO priorities. No longer are they “traditional” CIOs, concerned with deploying new technology systems and controlling costs. Today, more are becoming “digital” CIOs, concerned with business innovation and strategy.

Dan Chesterman, CIO of the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX), emphasizes that shift in a recent interview.

“There’s no doubt that digital channels have become more important, and that means that there needs to be good strong technology leadership in some of those revenue-generating roles, whether that’s the CIO or tech-savvy business leaders.”

With great power comes great responsibility

Chesterman notes that when ASX has an outage, it becomes front-page news and he, as a technology leader, feels “a great sense of responsibility” for that outage. As more CIOs transition into strategic positions, more will feel responsible for business outcomes. For good reason: The technology investments that CIOs preside over are the flywheels of organizational change.

“In order to deliver the services our customers expect, we are increasingly reliant on technology.”

Chesterman is careful to navigate the line between traditional and digital CIOs, however. Traditional CIOs focused on deploying new technology systems without paying much heed to how those systems drove innovation forward. Modern CIO priorities must emphasize tying technology investments to business strategy.

To help CIOs organize their goals and determine how prepared their organization is to follow through on each, VMware developed the VMware CIO Assessment tool. The assessment examines three major organizational priorities and how equipped companies are to respond, adapt and accelerate their strategies according to those priorities.

Assess transformation efforts to determine business strategy

Though each CIO will determine their own priorities, it’s clear that any new initiative begins with a search for answers. In many cases, the information these leaders need is already at their fingertips.

Chesterman identifies that CIOs are in a great position to become revenue drivers “because there is this great growth of data” that organizations enjoy today. Every IT leader has an opportunity to “monetize or create new services based on the data that is captured by all the activities an organization is part of.”

How tech leaders elect to leverage that data depends on their specific goals. Chesterman acknowledges he doesn’t “think that there’s one answer that fits everyone but there’s no doubt that there’s more revenue associated with technology-enabled services.”

The CIO Assessment offers tailored feedback depending on a leader’s desired outcomes. For example, Chesterman says technology leaders are “starting to talk of distributed ledger technology and how we could potentially use that to also redefine the sort of services that customers expect from us.”

He might select the “Expand & Innovate” priority, as he envisions distributed ledger technology as an enabler of new products and services.

From there, he’d indicate ASX’s traction in each of the Respond, Adapt and Accelerate categories. These categories examine how a given organization fares against a number of milestones:

  • Respond: The Respond questions determine how well an organization responds to strategic cornerstones, including customer and employee experiences, as well as security threats.
  • Adapt: These measures identify how well companies have adapted to today’s digital business environment.
  • Accelerate: Accelerate barometers measure how well a company has facilitated growth and new opportunities.

Based on these responses, the CIO Assessment provides detailed recommendations to technology leaders to guide their strategies.

Technology leaders must seize business-driving opportunities

The information companies generate can and should inform their technology decisions. Data has the power to unlock the true value of emerging technologies (such as blockchain in the enterprise), as well as provide the critical fuel for business-driving results through tools, like artificial intelligence and predictive analytics

The range of outcomes from the CIO Assessment highlights just how much work many organizations still have ahead of them. That there is still room for growth is an opportunity for CIOs to insert their voices.

“We need to be much more commercial leaders and we need to be able to communicate the things that we’re thinking about and seeing in the future,” Chesterman says. “And we’ve got to have that voice in the strategy conversation.”

Take the CIO Assessment today to determine how prepared your organization is for the digital era.