What are the most important capabilities needed for a CIO driving a transformation? Corning Vice President & CIO Mark Clark shares his thoughts with Axiom Consulting Partners’ Don Ruse.
Don Ruse: From your vantage point as a CIO, what do you believe are the most important capabilities you need to demonstrate to successfully drive this transformation in IT?
Mark Clark: Number one, it’s about having good business acumen; very strong in that department so that you can discuss financial, operational and other business factors in a language the business understands. Secondly, it is clearly about having the emotional intelligence that you need to have to effect the cultural change, which is a big part of the transformation; it is as important as the other aspects. Lastly, you need to have a vision that people want to march toward. Quite a bit of the time that I have invested in this has been around trying to shape that vision in a way that the business can fully understand.
DR: Tell us about why you believe this is as much a culture change as it is a technology change.
MC: It brings forth a different set of skills that an IT organization needs to bring. It is emphasizing the need to be a proactive business partner. It is informing and solutioning for the business versus being an order taker. I think historically IT organizations were much more involved in responding to what the business wanted versus being a partner in creating the value opportunities and shaping the direction, using technology to drive that. So to do that, you have to change your organization from what is comfortable and natural in the way they used to operate and shift that toward a different set of competencies and skills. For the business, it is getting them to rethink what is important.
So in the past, I think that in many companies it is true that the independence of that business leader being able to make those business decisions and doing what’s right for themselves versus what may be most relevant and providing more speed and agility, getting that into the thought process to move to more standardized solutions, also plays into what has to change. And that part of it I probably spend most of my time talking about with my business partners and with my IT organization. The technology piece of it is pretty straightforward; everybody understands the benefits of technologies and what they are bringing. But how you take advantage of that technology and how you really make hay with it is where the focus is, and you have got to get people to think about the way they want to look at a problem or technology and utilize it. So for me, culture change is probably the most vital one and one of the hardest to obtain.
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