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Innovating strategically

As a C-level executive responsible for innovating technology, there are plenty of technology-based words on the business roadmap that suggest you’re strategic with innovation. We all have read recently about artificial intelligence, block chain, digital, data driven or cloud-based, and I am sure there are strategic projects underway at your businesses to leverage technology transformations as the source for a competitive advantage. These days given the pace of change and the competitive challenges, the CEO has doubled down on innovation. Which means you need to look deeper into those strategic projects to clearly understand how those initiatives will have an impact on the growth agenda. The growth agenda is the means to advance the company. For Information Technology (IT) executives, this demand for innovation is beyond traditional focuses, such as efficiencies and process improvements, and finally gets real about the value of IT-business. What is real is the ability to shift the business mindset to understand that innovation strategically is an investment.

Innovation strategically is about defining the goals that shift the business into a new era of innovational performance using technology to its fullest. Seems straightforward in its description, right? Let’s start with the fact that business expectations change frequently with the desire to advance forward in revenue and client satisfaction. That’s the name of the game, staying in business – longevity and profitability. Often though, the culture of the business prohibits the innovation advancement due to the steadiness of the business culture. You know, the day in and day out get the job done mentality where IT struggles to collaborate with the business units. That business mentality has sustained many businesses for some time now. However, we have seen many businesses who no longer exist due to their inability to cultivate a new business mindset to make the needed innovation shift. I’m sure you have read about them.

The challenge of getting to an innovation mindset from an operational one is tough. But what if you can balance the pendulum to support both? Let’s think this through a bit more. Why not approach this dilemma with the forethought that innovation is a must and not a choice to debate? Facts prevail throughout several publications indicating that innovation has increased the growth agenda as well as operational efficiency and performance. Let’s look at the business as a portfolio of product and services which is your investment strategies that drive increased revenue, quality and higher performance in customer satisfaction. Applied to information technology, innovation, strategically focuses on high-touch and high-tech customer-experiences, creating new engagement models and creating new business models. This is accomplished by exploiting data and capabilities that become customer centric and product-focused, such as digitization and blockchain, to name a few.

The balancing act between being a transformational leader and functional one–delivering the basic IT services–is a challenge. What is transpiring in our world is the CIO becoming a strategic leader contributing to the development of new business strategies, differentiation and go-to-market plans. To obtain innovation strategically, the CIO must strike a balance with the operational priorities and innovation must-dos to support the growth agenda. Much of shifting the mindset, from being a functional leader to becoming a transformational leader, is to become one who delivers core services, collaborates with the line of business, has CEO’s line of sight and builds trust internal and external to create innovation, a strategic advantage. An innovative culture supports a business environment that engages everyone to create a thriving enterprise.

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