SpotDotContest_Columbia_8_cropped

Good technology tends to be the thing no-one really thinks about until it stops working. But when it does stop working, the CIO is the centre of their colleagues’ world.

That might be why so many IT leaders find it so difficult to think beyond keeping the lights on.  Our most recent CIO survey, conducted among 900 CIOs across the world, suggested that 55 per cent of CIO budgets are focused on delivery of core IT services, with just 22 per cent devoted to business growth.

For the public sector, ‘business growth’ can be replaced with operational effectiveness or delivering on the promise to citizens of a modern public sector that embraces digital public services. Here the public organisations need to think towards online services as slick as the best of the private sector.

So beyond the ongoing narrative of real or expected public sector spending cuts, IT leaders need to consider how technology can drive organisational innovation and efficiency, and meet the growing demands on public services.

So what to do?

Innovation as a concept means risk, and that’s something for which the public sector doesn’t always have the most voracious appetite – it’s the fear of failure. IT departments, too, are often unfamiliar and uncomfortable with the unknown. But risk doesn’t have to mean playing fast-and-loose with organisational data or infrastructure.

Even venture capitalists avoid unqualified long-shots. Their risk decisions tend to be based on acceptable parameters and acknowledge failure as an inevitable part of the process. Failure on those terms isn’t a disaster.

Migrating to that mindset into the public sector is challenging, but for CIOs with the vision and appetite of a venture capitalist who can offer their teams as innovation centres, rather than purely cost-bearing organisational functions, it’s not impossible. It’s the opportunity to step up.

Our research highlights a couple of illuminating points in this respect.  CIOs tend to struggle in forging partnerships or strategic alliances across their organisations.  At a time when senior roles in digital are at a premium, CIOs are at risk of being left behind especially with a new generation of Chief Digital Officers ready to fill the innovation void.

If there’s a silver lining, it’s this: CIOs say their relationships are better with the more ‘traditional’ C-suite roles, like chief executives and chief financial officers, where maybe innovation is not their priority. This is the opportunity. To influence their peers on the benefits of technology investment, CIOs need to get better at storytelling.  Complex IT scenarios can be brought to life with anecdotes and real world examples, helping to bring emotion to a hitherto binary subject, and positioning technology as an enabler of innovation throughout the rest of the organisation.

Risk, in this context, isn’t about a ‘hit and hope’ strategy with little real chance of success.  It’s about painting a picture of the future and making sure public sector technology plays a key role in reinvigorating how public services are delivered in Scotland.

So the choice then becomes quite clear: do you want your organisation to consider IT to be a custodian of core systems or drivers of service transformation through technological innovation?

Think about it…

  Jonathan Meddes_resized

 



Jonathan Meddes

Director, Consulting

Comments

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.