Disrupting Disruption: CIOs as Change Agents

June 26, 2015
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by Peter High, published on iRise


The CIO role is becoming more strategic yet more complex in recent times. In the last few years, the level of advancement of technology is mindboggling, as are the demands of business.

Of greatest concern is the speed of disruption—the rate at which an entirely new competitor, often driven by technological innovation, can materialize and dominate a key sector of your business. In the face of this, CIOs are less often thought of as back-end managers; instead, they are increasingly called on for business innovation and strategic thinking.

The role is more complex, as well. Security is factored into every conversation. The board cares about IT strategy, data policies and security operations. Startups enter the marketplace eager to disrupt long-established players. And those enterprises speak openly of their fear of being “ubered” by these aggressive, digital-native upstarts.

In this arena, CIOs have to make the potentially uncomfortable transformation into change agents.

Strategic transformation:  Facing the challenges

In the sharply accelerating evolution from the mainframe era to today, technology has become more a daily part of the business, and consumerization of IT has made users both more capable and more demanding. Yet many IT leaders still do not view technology and their relationships with the rest of the enterprise in the way today’s marketplace demands.

CIOs have to be change agents. They cannot just wait for the next startup to disrupt them. It’s very important that they find ways to cannibalize themselves. Intel has championed the position that the best competitor should be the company itself. But disrupting yourself is incredibly difficult. It runs counter to human nature.

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