CEOs who hope to keep their companies in the game and their heads atop their shoulders would be well served to read a masterpiece on digital-business strategies and priorities—CIO Predictions for 2019—from the superb and relentlessly insightful analyst Dion Hinchcliffe of Constellation Research.
Of course, Hinchcliffe’s 12-point column will also make superb reading for any person interested business strategy, digital innovation, competitive dynamics, the shifting nature of corporate culture, the intensifying war for talent, and—sadly—the propensity for too many senior leaders to knuckle under when existential decisions about resource allocation must be made.
The focus on the CIO and her/his priorities is in itself an intriguing one because the position and its potential has evolved in stunningly rapid and profound ways over the past few years as the desire among billions of people around the world to engage in digital lifestyles has forced businesses in every industry to remake themselves as something quite unlike they were before: more open, more customer-centric, faster, smarter, nimbler, data-driven and wholly digital from end to end.
(If you’d like to catch an audio version of Hinchcliffe’s outlook and vision on a range of subjects, please check out my recent conversation with him on my Cloud Wars Live podcast.)
Hinchcliffe’s list of 12 CIO predictions—and I think they could just as easily be called CIO priorities—begins with this one: “1. The CIO will have their best-ever opportunity to partner with the CEO and the board.” When I first read that, I thought “well, that’s fairly obvious,” but Hinchcliffe immediately digs into the risks that those CEOs face if they fail to foster and encourage such collaboration in this transcendently different digital age by ultimately becoming “a technology company.”
Writes Hinchcliffe, “CIOs must successfully become what many were hoping the Chief Digital Officer (CDO) would become (though many have): Reinventing the organization as a true digital business and technology company.”
And in his prediction #5, Hinchcliffe extends that thought by saying that 2019 could well be the make-or-break year during which CIOs either make that deep connection with the CEO and the board or be forever shunted off to the side to monitor server uptime and monthly T&E expenditures.
Other forecasts I found to be particularly insightful:
In #2 and #6, Hinchcliffe first talks about the incredible urgency for CIOs to help drive massive improvements in customer experiences, but then goes on to say that the sheer speed and magnitude of digital innovation and change are making it increasingly difficult for some CIOs and some companies to stay not just up with that upheaval but to get in front of it.
In #4, he talks about the essential significance of digital transformation, yet also laments that many companies—that is, many CEOs and boards—are willing to talk a good game but are failing to make the hard decisions on priorities and budgets to allow those strategic digital initiatives to succeed. And all too often, it will be the CIO who’s blamed.
In #7—which could easily have been moved up to #2 or #3 on the list—Hinchcliffe lays out in stark detail the glaring lack of necessary talent that many companies are facing and will continue to confront for the foreseeable future. But, he also offers some high-value suggestions for how companies can and must pursue “alternative talent sourcing” and training opportunities. Again, the stuff that got companies to the end of 2018 will not see them successfully through the turbulence sure to come in 2019.
And in #10, Hinchcliffe describes another scary scenario for which CEOs and others who set financial priorities should be horse-whipped: the failure to fund appropriate and effective employee-experience initiatives that allow those people to at least become competent with if not master the digital tools and mindsets essential for individual and corporate success in 2019 and beyond.
I’d love to see Hinchcliffe follow up this piece with an overview of how companies can actively avoid the minefields he points out in this compelling and valuable CIO Predictions for 2019.
So Dion—are you taking requests for future columns?
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