2 items tagged "IT leadership"

  • 7 tips to become a better CIO

    7 tips to become a better CIO

    CIOs have long been viewed by many colleagues as second-string executives. Now is the time for IT leaders to expand their role, and to assert their unique vision and value.

    Being a CIO has never been more important. Major IT trends, including security and privacy protection, cloud computing, machine learning, and remote workforces, as well as complying with an avalanche of regulatory mandates, have elevated the CIO post to a level of importance equal to, or even exceeding, that of fellow C-level executives. Unfortunately, within many enterprises, however, management’s perception of CIOs remains firmly embedded in the past.

    It’s up to CIOs themselves to expand their role in the enterprise by moving into business areas once considered off-limits or, until recently, didn’t even exist. “Gone are the days of the CIO being a back-office IT cost manager,” declares Chris Scheefer, vice president of intelligent industry at technology services and consulting firm Capgemini Americas. “Today’s CIO must adapt and become a business strategist, a digital innovator, and an orchestrator for business.”

    Are you up to the task? If so, here are seven steps that will help you build a bigger, and more rewarding, role for yourself.

    1. Position yourself as a change agent

    From front office to back office, the CIO needs to operationalize strategy and be a change agent, driving new skills and talent into the business. “The role of the CIO, through applied digital technologies, is to build resiliency, organizational agility, and become the engine to scale new technologies and innovations into a sustainable competitive advantage,” Scheefer says.

    The key to success, Scheefer believes, is to become the C-suite’s vehicle for driving business strategy and transformation at pace and scale. “This means becoming more than a mechanism for technology project delivery and management,” he notes. It’s about bringing an outcomes- and value-oriented perspective to the job, along with a solid plan to activate the strategy holistically.”

    Too often, CIOs work reactively, waiting for the business to come to them. Proactive engagement and building an IT organization that’s integrated into front-office operations is critical to success, Scheefer says. This means embedding and integrating teams on key strategic priorities and supplying shared metrics to their business stakeholders to ensure a successful partnership. 

    2. Focus on outcomes, not technologies

    Many, perhaps even most, executive team members aren’t particularly interested in technology, yet all are interested in learning how innovation can benefit the enterprise. “Don’t hide in the basement,” advises John Abel, CIO at network equipment company Extreme Networks. “The worst thing to do as CIO is to not engage with executive stakeholders.”

    Abel suggests creating and leading monthly meetings with the executive team to bring transparency to IT planning and operations. “To play a bigger role, a good first step is to ensure your discussions are relevant to the people you’re talking to,” he says. Know what the hot-button items are and bring them to the table for dialogue and input. “This will allow the CIO to be better positioned in the company and more likely to be included in the decision-making process,” Abel explains.

    3. Build business value

    When IT begins delivering value in terms of profits earned rather than simple cost reductions, colleagues will begin viewing the CIO in an entirely new and positive light.

    “It will change the perception of the role of the CIO,” says Brian Jackson, a research director in the CIO practice at technology research and advisory company Info-Tech Research Group. “The more the CIO can support the business with key technology capabilities, the more peers will link their success to forming a strong relationship with the CIO.”

    The CIO gets a seat at the main decision-making table when IT is mature enough to deliver on initiatives that directly improve the organization’s business model, Jackson says. “If the CIO can bring in new revenue, provide customer-facing touchpoints, and drive data-driven decision making, then they are going to become integral to enterprise strategy.”

    CIOs should also consider participating in professional associations that will allow them to meet with their peers. “It can be especially insightful to discuss challenges and opportunities with other CIOs in the same industry,” Jackson notes. “It’s one way to discover some shortcuts to solving problems.” 

    4. Be open, upfront, and honest

    To build a bigger role, CIOs should clearly articulate precisely what they can and can’t do with the resources at their disposal. “Learning to present cyber needs through a risk management lens, with a clear financial outlook, is a great place to start,” suggests Tommy Gardner, CTO of government technology and services provider HP Federal. “The combination of a strong expert opinion backed by data is a powerful one and will elevate the CIO role.”

    Gardner says that CIOs also need to educate the C-suite on the fact that IT and security are continuously evolving and need to be constantly evaluated and supported from the top. “By making this an open conversation, and showing the ROI over time, CIOs can better position themselves and their teams as integral to the organization’s operations.”

    5. Seek external advice

    Relationships are built on listening, says Rebecca Fox, group CIO at security consulting firm NCC Group. Therefore, never overlook seeking external, unbiased advice when facing a particularly difficult challenge. “Getting help to create that roadmap is really helpful,” Fox notes. “It’s also more difficult for senior business leaders to dismiss external advice — with it, they are more likely to take action.”

    Building a network of fellow IT leaders to frequently interact with is key, says Prasad Ramakrishnan, CIO of SaaS provider Freshworks. “In IT, it’s not only about what you know, but also who you know,” he observes. “For example, if you need to bring in someone to solve a very niche problem, who do you know to get the job done right?”

    Ramakrishnan suggests participating in industry forums and encouraging team members to participate as well. “The collective learnings from these industry interactions can bring you together and provide you with the tools needed to solve business problems.”

    6. Aim for agility

    Emerging technologies and evolving customer and employee demands have forever changed the CIO’s role. “Today, the CIO is truly embedded,” says Florian Roth, chief digital and information officer at business application and technology provider SAP SE. “The mandate is to be agile; to actively design and deploy intelligent and sustainable technologies.”

    Roth notes that his mandate has changed dramatically in recent years. “From a classic IT manager to a strategic partner who actively shapes the intelligent and sustainable company and digital transformation,” he explains. “The role of the CIO has shifted from efficiency-driver to growth-driver, from system provider focused on managing traditional IT operations, to strategic decision-maker shaping and creating digital transformation.”

    Roth advises CIOs to take stock of gaps that need to be filled, including talent and technology, and to prioritize technologies that will drive the enterprise’s strategic vision forward. “Businesses are being pulled in many different directions and there’s an endless number of opportunities for technology to support broader company goals,” he says.

    7. Sharpen your strategy

    “What we tend to do with strategy is to make it long and cumbersome,” says Christine Ashton, CIO of SUSE, an open-source solutions provider. Yet it doesn’t have to be that way. “If you look at some of the biggest tech companies today, what they’re good at is re-running their strategy process at shorter intervals,” she notes.

    The pandemic has driven home the point that strategies can be constraining and shouldn’t limit the need to be agile. “It’s not about focusing on everything all at once, but rather focusing on the value levers that matter most to the business,” Ashton says.

    Instead of waiting a year or more to see whether a particular strategy is working, Ashton recommends running frequent and sharp strategy exercises. “By taking an end-to-end, value-based approach, you can rank projected results on how they contribute to closing your strategy gap overall,” she says. “In this way you are in a much better position to control scope and deliver real benefits faster and in phases.”

    Author: John Edwards

    Source: CIO

  • Measuring and managing sustainability for IT leaders  

    Measuring and managing sustainability for IT leaders

    How can IT leaders know if they’re tracking greenhouse gas emissions comprehensively? The introduction of AI and machine learning are painting a clearer picture.

    As companies attempt to take sustainability to the next level and gain a more complete view of their greenhouse gas emissions, there’s a growing need to quantify results and track progress.

    If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it,” says Autumn Stanish, associate principal analyst at Gartner, Inc. “In order to take initiatives to the next level -- particularly as organizations look to expand beyond Scope 1 and Scope 2 tracking -- there’s a need for more advanced and granular measurement tools.”

    It’s no small problem. Boston Consulting Group (BCG) reports that while 85% of companies are interested in reducing their emissions, only 9% of companies measure their total emissions comprehensively. Worse, only 11% have reduced their emissions in line with their goals over the last five years.

    How can companies get a better handle on their carbon footprint? How can CIOs and other IT leaders ensure that tools are in place for tracking emissions comprehensively? Although developing a framework remains a challenge, the introduction of AI and machine learning are changing the picture. “Tracking tools are becoming more refined and more useful,” Stanish says.

    Emerging Tech for Measuring Emissions

    Gaining insight into sustainability is becoming easier. Tools for measuring Scope 1 emissions (produced by company facilities or vehicles) and Scope 2 categories (purchased energy) have advanced considerably over the last few years. Yet, most organizations still lack an extended view of external emissions, referred to as Scope 3. These emissions extend out to the value chain and include products that have been sold.

    This lack of visibility is making it difficult for organizations to assemble a strategic framework and road map. BCG found that 57% of companies that measure all three types of Scope emissions see a significant decrease in emissions versus 31% that only partially measure emissions. Adding to the challenge: A measurement system must be accurate to pay dividends. Remarkably, firms BCG surveyed admitted a 30% to 40% error rate on their measurements.

    “It’s difficult to obtain a comprehensive view of a company’s footprint, says Mike Lyons, a managing director at BCG. “It’s very easy to get the carbon accounting or a boundary wrong, especially as organizations attempt to get a handle on Scope 3 emissions and understand product and technology lifecycles at a granular level.” In addition, a lack of expertise within organizations, even among environmental, social, and governance (ESG) teams, serves as an impediment.

    Most of today’s tools generate numbers based on widely used carbon accounting methodologies while allowing users to view their results against specific goals and targets. For example, software tools and platforms such as Salesforce Sustainability CloudSphericsEnviziSource Intelligence and Carbon Analytics provide dashboards that extend out to Scope 3 emission categories.

    Cloud providers, including AWS, Azure and Google Cloud, also offer tools that provide insights into compute cycles, energy consumption, and carbon output. For example, Google has several tools that allow organizations to track carbon emissions, including Carbon Footprint, which highlights gross carbon emissions data in reports and disclosures, visualizes carbon insights via dashboards and charts, and offers tools designed to reduce gross emissions from cloud applications and infrastructure.

    Tools tracking Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions typically plug in power and fuel consumption, using power bills, meter readings and other sources. Many rely on aggregate and average figures collected from reports, documents, audits, and user inputs. Highly distributed businesses and organizations gauging Scope 3 emissions face steeper challenges. “Things can get difficult if you are a retailer and have thousands of stores, all with different bills at different rates, and you start peering into the supply chain,” says Casey Herman, ESG Leader at PwC US. “The question becomes, how do you accumulate all the data and convert everything into carbon output?”

    It's critical to understand how equipment, data centers, systems, and devices consume greenhouse gas emissions on a more granular level, Herman points out. “Many tools use conversation factors that may or may not be accurate.” Although major equipment manufacturers often share data about their products, assembling all the pieces into a complete picture can prove daunting. “Many business and IT leaders realize that they are missing lots of data or they have the carbon accounting wrong,” Lyons says. For now, “They have no way to understand what is really taking place.”

    Dialing Down Emissions

    BCG found that 86% of organizations continue to use spreadsheets to track carbon emissions. Overall, 53% of business and IT leaders say that they have trouble making and tracking decisions. An incomplete picture of assets and consumption is partly to blame but business leaders also complained that measurements take place too infrequently, and a lack of automation is a problem.

    More advanced platforms that incorporate AI and machine learning are emerging. BCG, for example, has introduced an artificial intelligence-based software platform called CO2 AI that strives for a more complete and accurate view across the supply chain. Its software connects to ERP systems and pulls operational data about materials that go into products; the physical movements of planes, trains, and trucks; e-waste streams, and much more. It essentially creates a digital twin of the enterprise.

    Meanwhile, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has developed a suite of solutions, including a product called TCS Clever Energy, that tap the IoT, AI, machine learning, and the cloud to help organizations decipher intricate energy performance factors, including heating and cooling, process energy optimization, demand response, intelligent tariff management, emission management and sustainability compliances with integration to sensors, meters, and assets across the organization. It runs on the Azure Cloud platform.

    The goal, Lyons says, is to gain a deeper understanding of how various options, trade-offs, and decisions impact the carbon reduction process. As organizations delve deeper into the space, there’s also an opportunity to run simulations and identify cost savings and potential funding issues. “It’s possible to view what-if scenarios and understand their impact in 2030 or 2050. An organization can spot gaps, including funding, and identify steps to address them,” he says.

    Of course, as firms venture into the realm of Scope 3, success typically revolves around other companies sharing data, which can present obstacles. As Lyons puts it: “Right now, there’s no expectation of sharing data among companies and, in some cases, a business may do so at its peril.” He says that in order for businesses to further advance initiatives, there’s a need to develop ecosystems that allow organizations to share data securely and sometimes anonymously across partners and supply chains.

    Herman says that organizations should focus on a strategy that incorporates tools and calculators but also presses vendors to provide more detailed information about the carbon footprint of their products. While there’s a need to gather, verify and vet various methods and data to ensure that everyone and everything is in sync, the approach helps build a framework for greenhouse gas emissions reduction. Along with training and an ongoing focus on integrating data into environmental, social, and governance programs, it’s possible to adopt a framework of continual improvement and progress.

    Concludes Stanish: “We’re setting moonshot goals for greenhouse gas reduction. Organizations must adopt better tools and processes to gauge progress and deliver meaningful and actionable insights.”

    Author: Samuel Greengard

    Source: InformationWeek

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