Of course, the daily work of an astronaut cannot be compared with that of a CIO. However, both are united by perspective. An astronaut in space can view the earth from above from a unique perspective, while a CIO has an equally unique perspective on the company and can view it holistically. So what constitutes this unique perspective for the CIO and how can he or she also use the astronaut's characteristics in developing the corporate strategy?
A forest fire, for example, may look very small locally from down here, and people in distant regions or other countries may not even notice it. The astronaut from above sees how big the fire really is and how quickly it spreads, spreading to other areas and having a huge impact on a large number of people over time. Even when storms like thunderstorms, hurricanes or sandstorms are brewing, you can see their entire size from space, where they originate and which areas are affected and endangered.
The astronaut's perspective gives him an overhead view of the Earth's problems and their effects. He can see things that other people can never see from their perspective. This makes the astronaut a visionary and also a role model for many people.
Ready for liftoff: The role of the CIO in the C-suite
CIOs are increasingly less deployed as IT leaders in the company, they play an increasingly important role in companies and steer the company's (digital) strategy. Their experience as leaders of IT organizations brings them many advantages:
You know the market speed
They have experience of how agility can meet change in the marketplace
They often have leadership experience and increasingly enjoy the trust of CEOs
Already in 2019, more than 50% of CIOs said (source: Gartner) that they help steer the strategic destiny of the company. They are also the bridge into many departments, as a company's technology permeates all areas. Every employee has contact with IT in the company. Thus, the responsibility for internal productivity also lies with the CIO.
The balancing act between external and internal factors is challenging because it requires an examination of the way people in the company create value.
Just as the view of the earth from the space station makes it clear that the earth is a fragile construct, the situation in the company is also fragile. The pressure to innovate through digitization comes from outside and companies must develop quickly so that they are not left behind by competitors. At the same time, it is difficult to implement this change with the existing team in the company. Startups (which are then bought by larger companies and bring them speed) tend to have the advantage of moving quickly here. We know that the mere mention of buzzwords such as agility or AI does not help here.
What must a CIO do now to resolve this conflict and improve the fragile situation?
Focus on digital products
Customers have always expected products to provide them with benefits and thus generate value. It is now clear that this can only be achieved if these products adapt to changes in users. Continuous development has become the norm. On the delivery side, this means that products can only be successfully delivered to customers if
the products are continuously maintained,
the customer is closely involved in the development,
and the operations team properly "owns" the product.
Taking advantage of the new way of working
CIOs with a technical background often already know it beyond the buzzword. Agility and entrepreneurial thinking have a long history in software development and are increasingly spilling over into the entire company. While essential ideas are often lost in the process, the fundamental idea still carries over and is adapted.
A culture that values experimentation and focus is certainly more helpful for companies in digitization than one that relies on stability and continuity.
The whole thing is happening in an environment where people demand and need greater flexibility, because working is no longer everything. This means that under the leadership and with the experience of the CIOs and their perspective, the company can bring agile ideas into the company and also become a role model as part of how other areas should act and operate.
Selecting technologies for the digital world
Technology companies have technology as a core competence and this core competence must also develop further. Even if "AI" and a lot of "blockchain" won't win us a golden coffee cup yet, it is right to take care of these technologies, because everything that favors the digital transformation or promises productivity increases of 10x and more helps.
Increasingly, companies need to become an experimental kit in order to master the mass of new technologies. That doesn't mean trying everything. On the contrary, it will be how good you are at sorting out and which technologies you can master that they end up adding value to the customer.
CIOs who have an overview of the technical competencies and select technologies that are made for the digital world will leave a positive impression.
So where is the journey heading with companies? How can the CIO actively shape this journey and what is the next anchor point? Only time will tell. What is clear is that the journey does not have a single destination, but that it will probably never end. What will matter is that we, as CIOs, shape it in such a way that this journey can be taken successfully for as long as possible.
Your journey with OHB Digital Services
Benefit from the knowledge gained from space travel for your business. OHB Digital Services GmbH has been a reliable partner for secure & innovative IT solutions for many years. We are part of one of the most successful space and technology companies in Europe. With our products and services, we support you, among other things, in digitizing your business processes along the value chain and in all security-related issues. Please feel free to contact us.