Executive Director’s Corner

In my time to reflect, which is not as much time as I thought I would have, I have been able to objectively think of the CIO role and C-Suite relationships. I have read, but more importantly observed that the role of the CIO is continuing to change for many, but not for all! Information Technology has become the enabler of the digital transformation companies are expecting. The work from home, thanks to the pandemic, has elevated the exposure and planning that IT organizations have been doing for years.

There is a problem. CEOs may be asking “What is next? What are you going to do for me now?” Are CIOs prepared to declare victory (I never recommend that by the way) or are they prepared to have discussions with their C-Suite colleagues about what the business strategy should be? Can CIOs have that conversation or do they have to just keep the lights on and sit at the table nodding? I ask these questions because I see observations of both and I remember past experiences.

I have some recommendations:

  • Don’t wait to be asked. Share your observations about the past year and what can be done better and in the future.
  • Celebrate when appropriate with your workforce regarding accomplishments during the pandemic and seek input to continue to improve.
  • Seek input from your peers and include them in strategy planning. I’m not sure there should be an IT strategy vs. a business strategy. Maybe it should be an IT Plan that supports the business strategy instead.
  • Reestablish relationships when possible. The pandemic has changed relationships to 2×2 inch squares on a screen! In person will matter again when possible.
  • Have a future vision of technology and where it is leading your company. It is moving fast and being too far behind is not a great option in my opinion.
  • The worst thing to do is ask for more budget! Yes, I said it. Let budget come to you by the demand of the business strategy. Everybody will ask for something from IT, why not use their budget?
  • Look at skills in your workforce. Are you going to be capable of implementing new technologies in the new wave of transformations? Most likely not, so should you have a sourcing strategy as well as training plan?

I’m sure this is not an exhaustive set of recommendations and would really be interested in what others think.

Our membership at Innovate@UCLA has some of the most recognized companies in the world who are sharing, networking and are practicing many of these recommendations.

Now is the time to join!

Of course, you have your work colleagues and maybe friends and acquaintances outside your
company but do you have the network that span industries? As the world of IT keeps changing, new something is always around the corner. Even new acquisitions or mergers in the IT world keep happening. One thing for sure, is IT will always have new changes and opportunities. Keeping up with change while maintaining your IT operations, new development and workforce is stressful if you don’t have the network.

I want to encourage current members to use this opportunity to reach out to fellow members, ask questions, compare notes or find someone to talk to who isn’t at your company. It works, I have done it my whole career. So let Innovate@UCLA work for you!

For those who are not members, I invite you to join for your company so that you and members of your staff can enjoy the benefits of Innovate@UCLA. Visit the Membership page to explore!

Jim Rinaldi