How CIOs can reshape IT to unlock business ingenuity

By Scott Koegler

Businesses are under tremendous pressure to reshape IT and transform themselves digitally. Fifty-four percent of C-suite members expect more competition from other industries, and driving innovation is the only way to keep up. Though CIOs are inventive and resourceful in trying to shift their roles in the enterprise to drive change — IBM's recent mobile and emerging technologies survey shows that 90 percent are investing in innovation — only 50 percent are seeing results. Why is this? It takes ingenuity to reshape IT properly.

For the modern CIO seeking to rearchitect IT, a wide variety of new, off-the-shelf solutions presents a head-spinning diversity of choice. Coupled with this is a critical need to integrate new solutions and innovations with existing infrastructure. For this reason, CIOs need ingenuity to build an IT foundation that supports rapid change with a rich ecosystem of capabilities, while continuing to derive value from existing IT investments.

CIOs need to work to become the disrupters, rather than the disrupted. Avoiding the "disruption victim" designation requires you to leverage your enterprise's strength in the market and existing business structure to become a disruption opportunist — an ingenious leader who sees favorable circumstances for disruption when others don't.

Ingenuity: A new 'I' for CIOs who reshape the IT core

Line-of-business (LOB) executives believe their companies are susceptible to disruption over the next three years. With new, non-traditional competitors encroaching on their market, they need to transform to survive. However, transformation doesn't always yield the intended results. As many as 90 percent of would-be disruptive startups fail because they didn't properly apply or enable disciplined ingenuity. They didn't have the data needed to realize their idea wouldn't have market appeal.

In reshaping IT, successful CIOs unlock a deeper level of business ingenuity — integrating apps and all types of data across a multi-cloud and traditional IT infrastructure — to inform meaningful transformation and deliver the capabilities needed to disrupt. There are significant advantages to building this nimble foundation for digital business. Your challenge is to step outside your traditional IT and support role by working directly with LOB management to constructively transform your business with new ideas to stay ahead of competitors. Your IT expertise brings these ideas to life through influence and integration.

Become a disrupter

Enterprises that are pursuing digital transformation are faced with great opportunities along with tremendous challenges. You need to put yourself at the forefront as more than a technologist and understand the types of data you have and how they can be used, the systems that need to be integrated and the capabilities your business will need in order to deliver meaningful innovation.

By partnering closely with other business leaders, you can collaboratively unlock business ingenuity and synthesize what you know with what they envision for the future. Take advantage of technologies that can help you realize your collective visions — supported by an integrated infrastructure that supports all types of data and offers a richly diverse ecosystem — to fuel innovation and create the next generation of your business. By prioritizing optimization, flexibility, and strategic thinking, you are becoming your own disrupter and leapfrogging your competitors.

For example, to combat challenges facing its worldwide business operations, JFE Steel worked to develop an IT system that would integrate a stable, reliable infrastructure to support 24/7 plant operations and a flexible IT environment that could quickly adapt to ever-changing global marketplace conditions. By using the cloud and outsourcing services, the company created a mixed IT environment that improved the company's responsiveness while improving IT governance, portability, continuity and costs. This resulted in 83 percent faster development, with JFE reducing the time it takes to develop new system infrastructure from two months to less than two weeks.

The bottom line? You need ingenuity to break from tradition and lead your company to new opportunities with an IT foundation ready to inform and enable change. To achieve real and effective change, do the following:

  • Balance optimization with innovation
  • See technology spending strategically
  • Reinvent the organizational model
  • Adopt consumable technology
  • De-complicate compliance

The weight of driving disruption rests fully on the shoulders of the CIO. An ingenious approach to driving change can help your company keep afloat among a sea of ever-evolving competitors — and perhaps even leave them in your wake.