Financial Services Blog

The role of IT is changing more than ever due to digital disruption and shifting business operating models. CIOs are faced with countless—and often conflicting—demands to keep things running while establishing new market and revenue streams and enhancing customer experiences.

In this series, I will try to illustrate how CIOs might not have to choose which demands to fulfill, but instead fulfill them all by delivering change at precisely the right speed demanded by each business area.

Achieve the right outcome by shifting to the right gear at the right time

As digital disruption has leaders from all areas of the business clamoring for quick, breakthrough innovation, CIOs are tasked not only with keeping systems up and running, but also with managing risk, saving money and increasing efficiencies, even as all aspects of the operating model are shifting.

Somewhere in between the fast innovation and the day-to-day steady state of systems maintenance, CIOs have to contend with a multitude of other projects and priorities, all moving at their own individual speeds. Yet, few IT organizations are built with the ability to respond flexibly.

Faced with these conflicting demands, how can CIOs drive business innovations that can fuel growth and high performance while maintaining everyday operations?

The answer: by mastering multi-speed IT.

CIOs who can build multi-speed IT into the DNA of their organization have the opportunity to place IT at the epi-center of the digital business revolution.

Failing to develop multi-speed capabilities puts CIOs at risk of creating a bifurcated, or two-speed, IT organization, where they are left navigating the day-to-day operations while watching the rest of the company as it accelerates to create a competitive position for future growth.

In fact, CIOs risk a decoupling between the business and IT, and siloed technologies may be deployed when companies turn outward to digital third parties to cover their needs.

The current challenge for CIOs is to synchronize tasks and projects executed in agile mode—frequent small releases—with those tasks and projects executed in waterfall mode—one large release over a period of time—and thus create multi-speed IT operating models.

Multi-speed, not multi-task

The role of the CIO is essential for making a distinction between multi-tasking and multi-speed. Rather than trying to ride, drive and fly all at the same time, high-performing CIOs should take on the role of urban planner and traffic controller.

Understanding which vehicle is required and selecting the right path for each is the new challenge every CIO should be focused on. With the right operating model in place, the business will be powered by capable teams using the right technology and solid governance. In this way, CIOs will be integral to ensuring an organization reaches its many destinations.

In my next post, I will outline how companies can operate in a multi-dimensional world.

Until then, take a look at the full Gearing Up for Growth Using Multi-speed IT report.

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