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CIO’s often have a tough time in their company getting management attention for ideas for business innovation with IT, according to Professor Joe Peppard from the ESMT European School of Management and Technology in Berlin.

And new research has shown that the larger the business, the harder it seems to be.

A survey carried out by Professor Peppard using data from companies across Europe showed that bigger organizations consistently found it more difficult to get effective ‘E-Leadership’ in place. Consequently, IT is frequently seen as a second-order issue and not as a driver of strategic opportunities such as business model innovation or innovations with customer experience.

Professor Peppard and his research team have identified eight steps a CIO can take to promote innovation with IT in their company:

1: Act like a business leader – Remember that a CIO is first and foremost a business leader, rather than an IT specialist. Develop a view on what is happening in the business with regard to overall strategy and the business environment.

2: Speak the language of business – Conversations in the C-Suite should never be about technology! Talking about technology risks alienating a CIO and confirming the stereotype that they are not close to business. Avoid jargon and talk about business impacts.

3: Get out of the office – Engage with users, managers, executives – maybe even go on a few sales calls in order to understand business priorities. Be and be seen as an agent of change and be able to explain why change is needed.

4: Promote IT as an instrument of change – Go beyond IT and be an enabler of transformation. Feed into discussions on company direction.

5: Use appropriate metrics to raise awareness of the value of IT – By making a shift in how the value and impact of IT is measured, they can develop a common language with their business partners and those in the C-Suite.

6: Coach the leadership team on the opportunities and threats of IT – CIO’s should spearhead the effort to educate the leadership team on digital issues. This could include briefings, frequent updates about new IT initiatives and tools – or even a regular blog detailing how IT innovations might be used by the business.

7: Start chasing innovation - Be proactive. Spark ideas. It’s no longer good enough to simply be an enabler of innovative ideas coming from business colleagues. Work closely with C-suite colleagues to co-create value as the business digitises.

8: Don’t be the department of ‘No’ – In some companies the IT team has a reputation for saying ‘no’ to everything. Get involved with initiatives from the start; for example, don’t wait to block a fully tested app in use. Communicate concerns early, avoid confrontation and be open to co-operation with lay people.

Professor Peppard states: “The CIO who takes these messages to heart is likely to dramatically change the climate of communication with their colleagues, catapulting the organisation towards embracing the most promising innovations in IT.”

For more information, or to speak to Professor Peppard on this issue, please contact Ian Hawkings at BlueSky PR - or call +44 (0)1582 790 704

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