A Practical Approach for IT Governance

On Demand CDO Services

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Online business process managing in cloud application. Concept

Background – On Demand CIO Services

A while back we had discussed the role of On-Demand CIO services in small to mid-market enterprises.  In the past without an IT leader at the helm, mid-market firms were feeling isolated from the benefits of technology. On-Demand CIO Services makes it affordable for them to develop the business strategic plan leveraging technology.  Generally, technology enabled IT Governance system helps On-Demand CIOs provide transparency not just within the technology group but across the entire enterprise, but the key to success is deep involvement with the Enterprise. While understanding the business is critical, the CIO must have deep technical knowledge as well. Simply paraphrasing a consultant or buzz words such as Big Data, Analytics, Social Media, Cloud and Mobility will not suffice. On-Demand CIOs need that deep understanding to articulate the Enterprise Architecture and IT portfolio that brings value to the enterprise. On-Demand CIOs need to build the right vernacular to discuss technology with various stake holders.

To reiterate, On-Demand CIO does not mean you have less responsibility. The scale of the company may not need a full-time CIO, however, the roles are very similar to full-time CIOs.  The focus of On-Demand CIO is not just on reducing IT expenditures, but bringing the strategic thinking that can help the small to mid-market enterprise gain a competitive edge and increase revenues.

The Digital Enterprise

The Digital Enterprise has become the new IT paradigm.  Gartner identifies a six stage evolutionary model for becoming Digital.

Six Stages of Digital Enterprise

Analog refers to the legacy method of running a business.  Web allowed enterprises to interact with the eco-system (employees, shareholders, suppliers and customers) through the Internet.  This led to B2B and B2C models that enabled the Enterprise to conduct business over the web. Gartner defines the Digital Marketing stage marked by the emergence of the nexus of  four forces (mobile, social, cloud and information/big data). Enterprises in this stage focus on new and more sophisticated ways to reach consumers. These Enterprises are more willing to participate in marketing efforts to gain greater social connection, or product and service value.  Buyers of products and services have more brand influence and they see their mobile devices and social networks as preferred gateways.  Enterprises at this stage grapple with tapping into buyer influence to grow their business.

Gartner goes on to define the Digital Business  as the first post-nexus stage on the road map and focuses on the convergence of people, business and things. The Internet of Things and the concept of blurring between the physical and virtual worlds are strong concepts in this stage. Physical assets become digitalized and become equal actors in the business value chain alongside already-digital entities, such as systems and apps. 3D printing takes the digitalization of physical items further and provides opportunities for disruptive change in the supply chain and manufacturing. The ability to digitalize attributes of people (such as the health vital signs) is also part of this stage.

The Autonomous stage refers to the use of robots, artificial intelligence and extreme automation to create a “new” species of intelligent agents.  Star Wars may be a better metaphor, but we are already seeing self-driving cars, robots that clean and serve, robots that take pictures, etc.

The Need for the CDO

When organizations did not understand technology, they responded by creating the position of the Chief Information Officer.  The CIO was the bridge by helping businesses communicate their technology needs and helping IT align the resources to match those needs.  Many of the CIOs focused their attention on execution.  This focus on execution meant that CIOs were slow to respond to the Digital Enterprise.  The organizations responded by creating a new role – the“Chief Digital Officer (CDO)”.   Many CIOs disagree with this approach. While most recognize the need, the CIOs argue that the CDO should report to the CIO.  Sadly, the CIOs are losing. More than 80% of CDOs report to the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO).

The Need for On Demand CDO Services

If we set aside the argument on where the CDO should report into, most will agree that small to mid-market enterprises also need this skill set.  I will argue that it is even more important in small to mid-market firms as they survive due to their innovative capabilities.  Innovation does not happen just from the top-down management models, rather, they more often than not, are taking place at grass-toots level.  And most important, Enterprises must seek out CDOs who are business savvy and tech savvy, besides being good motivators and leaders.  The flip side is that CDOs can be very expensive, and beyond the reach of small to mid-sized enterprises.  On Demand CDO Services help organizations enter the the Digital world without incurring the expenses of a full time CDO.

The second question on who is right for the job is a bit harder. The small to mid-market enterprises need an entrepreneurial individual who understands technology and the business.  Unlike a CIO, the CDO does not have the responsibility to keep the lights on, so the focus is extreme automation to reduce costs and innovation to gain market advantages.  A former technology entrepreneur or CTO may be a good source for On-Demand CDOs.

Finding On Demand CDO Positions

Just like On-Demand CIOs, finding such assignments are rarely through recruitment firms. They are usually based on a personal relationship or a referral to the CEO, COO or the CFO of the small to mid-market Enterprise. These referrals can come from other CIOs, CEOs, COOs or CFOs. So networking is the key to getting such assignments. Keeping in contact with your network via social media such as LinkedIn is good, but face-to-face networking meetings are very critical. It is also important in your profile to state that you are looking for such opportunities.



Written by Subbu Murthy

February 13, 2016 at 9:13 am

Posted in IT Governance

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