Five On-the-Job Traits CIOs Should Avoid

Staying with old technologies too long. Fear of failure can easily translate into the mindset: if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. But in today’s highly disruptive business environment, standing still is moving backwards. Far too many organizations remain shackled by legacy IT systems, often behemoth ERP and SCM systems that make it difficult to achieve the agility and flexibility required for today’s business environment. The result? Employees who cannot do their jobs effectively and customers who become frustrated by inferior products, a lack of customization and poor service.

Embracing new technologies too quickly. The pace of change is nothing short of daunting. The Internet of things, 3D printing, drones and big data all beckon with opportunity. While CIOs should explore these technologies and understand how they will likely transform their business, it’s also important to make sure they’re ready for prime time. This means piloting early and often, learning from successes and failures and building a domain of knowledge.

Putting too much faith in a hot proprietary technology. Let’s face it, IT is full of booby traps and dead ends. New technologies, and hype cycles, come and go faster than suitors on The Bachelor. What’s hot one moment is stone cold the next. Today, wise business and IT leaders hedge their bets and rely on open platforms and open-source solutions to the best degree possible. Then, when the winds of business or IT shift, they are prepared to go in the new direction with minimal disruption.

A disconnect with user needs and preferences. A big problem is understanding what really happens on the front lines of the business: at point of sale, on the phone and in the field. Despite surveys, focus groups, social listening and even social business tools that provide feedback, there’s an abstraction layer between good intentions and the real world. The bigger the organization, the greater the risk. The solution? Use tech tools but spend time with customers, and experience the way they shop and buy through actual observation and interaction.

A lack of collaboration. Once upon a time, CIOs were masters of the IT universe. No longer. These days, CMOs and others have equal or even greater power in terms of selecting and using IT and software systems. Clouds, mobility and big data are game changers. The upshot? CIOs must work with CMOs, COOs and others, and it’s critical to tap a new breed of business analyst and data scientists that can make sense of things.

Samuel Greengard
Samuel Greengard
Samuel Greengard writes about business, technology and other topics. His book, The Internet of Things (MIT Press) was released in the spring of 2015.

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