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If I was a CIO NOW - This is How I Would Approach 2023 - CIO Leadership

This year I have been very fortunate to connect with CIOs and other CXOs from around the world, and as the year draws to a close, I have been contemplating how I would be thinking about 2023 if I were a CIO now.

Accelerate delivery of core initiatives for business outcomes

The current expectation within many organisations is to accelerate delivery.

I can sense the heightened anxiety like in a bar that has just rung the bell for last drinks. Everything is more urgent now than it was earlier in the year it will require CIO leadership!

As CIOs we need to understand how to evolve the business through successful execution of projects, re-organisation, and digitisation - all within an organisation or a business model framework.

It’s critical to involve your executive peer group and invite them to contribute to these key initiatives.

You may go fast alone, but you will go further together.

Action then iteration beats perfection

The breadth of potential initiatives within any organisation continues to grow, and the gap is widening between the technical debt and the modern tech being deployed. This gap will widen as organisations work to a set of priority projects, rather than a broader program of work.

The technical debt must be addressed.

The best starting point for this is the isolation of technology and the rationalisation of users. I have seen these cycles before - it is how we removed Oracle at Microsoft, replacing it with Dynamics (2008-10) - and how the John Holland team retired Lotus Notes for a .Net solution (2013-15).

Users loved the legacy solutions however the rationales for change, and attitude of experimentation, created an environment where people were open to exploration.

These initiatives started as a simmer and built momentum after experiments were successful.

Commence tech debt initiatives now, ideally with minimal overhead. Progress through experiments, even though you may not know exactly how the initiatives will be concluded.

Technical currency will become KING

Technology teams are made up of three types of people; those that know the tech; those that lead the tech; and those that move with the tide of tech.

The movers are the most vulnerable, they tend to be in roles that are rationalised by organisations in a downturn. This group talk the game but are unable to deliver it.

For a CIO who is unable to understand the tech, the future horizon is super exposed. As a CIO you must choose to spend time on key technologies, delve deep into them for their practical application, be actively involved as a peer (not leader), and learn as you participate. This attitude will also indirectly create an environment of humility, leading to a great culture.

My friends in North America are preparing for a difficult period ahead. The timeframe for this is uncertain due to war and geo-political uncertainty; this will ripple into APAC.

I trust the above helps you as you navigate the transition into 2023.

The frameworks within Digital Is Everyone's Business can help.

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