The CIO Evolution as a Strategic Business Partner

technology continues to push us forward, changing how we do things. That is why CIOs need to champion change.
Application Innovation / Digital Optimization Strategy / IT Consulting / Software Development / Technology / Thought Leadership

The CIO Evolution as a Strategic Business Partner

Change does not come easy for most organizations. There will always be some level of resistance. Yet, technology continues to push us forward, changing how we do things. That is why CIOs need to champion change.

The good news is that CIOs are being supported in their efforts to usher in change. A Deloitte study unveiled the need and desire of CEOs that CIOs would become strategic business partners. While they may not have always seen eye-to-eye, that is changing, according to the research. Forty percent of CEOs indicated they saw CIOs as their partners in driving business strategy.

This may require tech leaders to change their approach when it comes to their organization and their role in it. Traditionally, CIO’s main position has been to maintain stability to the system and focus on efficiency. Now, however, tech leaders will need to find ways to drive change and innovation within their organizations.


Champion Change

Getting others on board when it comes to change is not an easy feat. By approaching the situation in the right way and helping others to see how technology can fix business problems and make their lives easier, getting everyone on board will be less challenging. Without a clear reason for implementing technology, most people will be more resistant to change. Here are some tried and true methods that can help champion change.

Focus on the Problem

Becoming a champion of change starts by defining the problem. New technologies can be enticing but unless they can fix the business problem, it may be difficult to convince others to give new tech a try. It is better to show what the problem is and what types of technology tools could fix it. This is key to getting others on board. If they can understand how technology will eliminate the problem, they’ll be more likely to get behind it and may even start to advocate for it.

Empower Front-Line Employees

Another key ingredient in championing change at your organization is to make others a stakeholder in the transition. For CIOs, this can mean asking employees what their problems are and guiding them to tech solutions to solve those issues. This approach helps others in the organization see how they are partners in the change rather than having change forced upon them.

Enlist Change Agents

The third component to champion change is to build a team of change agents. Not everyone will be as resistant to change as others. Make it a priority to find these individuals and get them on your side early on. Once others see these early adapters and the success they are having with the technology, it will be easier to sway them over to adopting the change.


Drive Business Value

Technology is seen by both CEOs and CIOs as a way to drive business strategy. Having CEOs understand this means that tech leaders will have more freedom to use technology to bring value to their companies.

The Deloitte study found that CEOs believe that technology should be an integral part of business strategy, not an independent branch of the company that needs to fight for funding and support. So, CIOs need to insert technology into the overarching business strategy rather than define a digital strategy of their own.


Emphasize the 4 C’s of Change

Becoming a change champion means mastering the 4 c’s of change: commitment, community, clarity, and communication. Each of these factors will play a role in the success of bringing change to an organization.


Sustaining change requires commitment. Without it, a CIO will not be successful at bringing innovation to an organization. Others need to be emotionally and intellectually dedicated to the tech solution. These individuals should not just be complying with a change that is being forced on to them, but rather, be committed to making it work. Unfortunately, you cannot force a commitment from employees. This is why CIOs need to be open to discussion. Allow others in the company to raise concerns. CIOs will then be in the driver’s seat to convert those conversations into more positive ones.


Change is a team game. CIOs will not be able to successfully bring change to their organizations on their own. Develop a team or a community of other change champions to support the transition. Remember that CEOs want tech leaders to step up and incite change that will lead to business growth. Company leadership will be a key supporter of the change, but it should not end there.

Search for others in the organization that are eager to adapt to the change. These individuals will be key players in the community of change champions. They can help foster the transition by taking the lead when it comes to change activities. Others may be better suited to advocate for the change. These individuals can encourage others to welcome technology rather than resist it.


People don’t simply change for the sake of it. They need to have a good reason. Employees will need to understand why change is necessary. Help them to see how new technology can improve the organization. It is also important to help them see how the change will benefit them personally. Be clear when explaining the costs that will come with staying the status quo.


The final key component to championing change is to communicate the business strategy and the steps that will be involved with implementing the change. To be successful and cultivate commitment from employees, comprehensive communication will be needed. This means going beyond emails, meetings, and even project presentations. Employees will need to feel free to express their concerns about the change and have those concerns addressed.

Communication also includes training, coaching, and feedback opportunities as the change progresses. Keep in mind that communication should be ongoing.  Regular communication can help eliminate any issues or false ideas that might disrupt the transition.