Three Strategies for CIOs

Chief Information Officer Strategies

Chief Information Officers (CIOs) and Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) are at the center of change in the digital age. More than any other C-level executive, their companies expect them to understand where the future is headed and how to keep the company in step with it. At the same time, their companies also expect them to keep a close eye on security and quality control. Otherwise, the company could risk a security breach, a customer exodus, or both. Therefore, CIOs and CTOs must balance innovation with caution. With this balance in mind, here are three strategies to help CIOs and CTOs cautiously embrace change in 2017:

1. Train and re-train your talent

One of the most common difficulties CIOs and CTOs face today is a lack of talent trained in a certain new or emerging skill. For example, suppose you’re building a new customer-facing website. After looking at the product requirements, and listening to your technical advisors, you are confident that the best programming language to build it in is Python. However, only one-third of your team is highly proficient in Python. What do you do? You could scrap the project; use a sub-optimal programming language; replace a large percentage of your development team; or engage in a rapid re-training program. This last option is often the smartest move, and should be part of your general approach already. If there still remains a gap, consider outsourcing part of the project to a team that can bring in highly-specialized development talent to coach your team and complete your project.

2. Consider cloud-based solutions

Cloud computing is solving problems for CIOs and CTOs in nearly every corner of IT. Granted, the cloud isn’t the answer to every company in every situation. For example, if you’re deciding whether or not to host your company’s email server in the cloud or locally, there are often good reasons to go local, such as utilizing your LAN to send internal email-attachments more efficiently. However, just as often, the cloud is the best, and sometimes the only, answer.

Cloud computing is extremely useful both as a small-scale tool, and as a large-scale platform. As a tool, developers often make use of cloud providers, such as Amazon’s AWS, to spin up a new development sandbox in minutes with everything they need to test the feasibility of a new idea. As a platform, the cloud is often the most efficient solution to the problem of making your software available to customers on any operating system, on any device.

3. Stay agile

Although CIOs and CTOs have known the virtues of agile development for more than a decade, many still hesitate to fully leverage the agile approach. To many CIOs and CTOs, agile’s bias for fluid adaptation over careful planning just seems too messy, too quick-and-dirty, to take seriously when it comes to managing a large, highly complex, long-term development project with little to no room for error. In some cases, their concerns may prove valid. If incorporating ongoing beta-user feedback or new product requirements is of no use to your project, then the classic “waterfall” approach may be the best development approach for you. However, in an age of rapidly-changing external factors, it’s unlikely that you will often find yourself squarely in that category. However, even if you are, you will certainly have R&D efforts that call for fluid adaption somewhere along the line. So it’s wise for you and your development teams to at least stand ready to employ agile when and where it serves your company’s most pressing needs.

Cautiously embracing change

In 2017, companies count on their CIOs and CTOs more than ever to lead the charge into the digital age. Yet they also expect their CIOs and CTOs to protect the company and its customers from security threats, while maintaining the highest level of quality control. In an effort to strike a balance, CIOs and CTOs often have a tense relationship with the latest strategic trends in IT. However, it’s important for CIOs and CTOs to at least cautiously embrace three strategies that are quickly becoming necessities: training and re-training your talent with the latest skills; strongly considering cloud computing solutions whenever they’re applicable; and using agile development for projects that demand a high degree of adaption and flexibility.


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