New CIO Priority List—Why Care and What to Do

Posted by Terry Holtz

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Jun 11, 2014 3:32:51 PM

Following an email link this morning we downloaded the Orbus Software top 8 CIO priorities1.  The eight items:

  1. Drive change to socially enable the enterprise.  Internally and externally enable and exploit the opportunities afforded by social media.
  2. Simplify IT and transform IT funding.  Make IT transparent to the rest of the organization and enable a funding process that is singularly focused on supporting corporate strategy
  3. Unleash your company’s intelligence through effective collaboration.  Create and enable lines of communication that defy conventional boundaries
  4. Manage the back office and the front office into the customer office.  Align the organization around customer supporting process and to the greatest extent possible lose the concept of an internal support process
  5. Future proof your IT architecture.  Recognize that future growth cannot be limited physical space.  The plan must incorporate social, data, and future growth
  6. Use cloud technologies to transform the enterprise.  The cloud is not just a vehicle to upgrade existing technology but needs to become a vehicle for transforming the organization
  7. Transform big data into big insights, big vision, and big opportunities.  Make big data work for the organization and its customers
  8. More innovation, less integration.  Integration of systems into corporate architecture has been key to cost overruns and failure.  Innovation must come with integration built in

Are the Rest of Us Stakeholders?

Beyond the obvious answer that information technology underpins most organizations is the more important list of disruptive forces that are driving change in today’s organization.  There are four main change drivers: 

1)      Globalization: the change that organizations must undertake to compete in a global market that constantly becomes more accessible and in many cases more complex. 

2)      Technology:  the rapid advance in the speed, the power and the availability of technology, particularly information systems.

3)      Product Obsolescence:  the shorter life-cycle of products leading to the need for rapid product development, lean manufacturing processes and the ability to adapt quickly. 

4)      The Workforce: the changing nature of the working population, the demography of the employees and the aspirations they have … more older people, more migrants, and more mixed teams2

Of these four at least three require or are dependent on technology to shape a response.  Globalization depends on systems and communications to reach and support markets.  The need for speedy and agile systems by definition requires new and better application of technology.  New and better products subject to rapid obsolescence require technology to analyze markets and requirements as well as to enable rapid product development and high efficiency production.  The fourth, the changing workforce itself requires changes to leadership and management philosophies more than technology in the direct response. However the response itself has to recognize that the workforce is already or will soon be dominated by workers who had their first work experience in the nineties or later.  They have expectations for the technically enabled organization far beyond their predecessors.   Given the role of technology in the existing organization and one responsive to the future, IT must map its priorities in alignment with strategy and execute them to create/enhance value to the business.  The rest of us not in IT acting as bystanders as the CIO maps his priorities would be foolish at best.

How do we help the CIO create business value?

The key from our perspective is to ‘change-enable’ the organization.  Technology implementation alone does not assure success.  We know 60% of technology projects are either outright failures or significantly challenged3.  From our experience the key is not the technology itself, but the failure to bring the people along -- through engagement, overcoming resistance, communication, and/or training.  A ‘change-enabled’ organization requires two things: 1) a standard set of tools to deal with change well understood throughout the organization and 2) a methodology to implement change.  In our practice we continue to work with many options for each.  If our clients don’t have existing capability we have adopted the Change Activation Toolkit from Better Business Learning as our base set of tools (See for a Toolkit description) and a change model rooted in the six sigma DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) as framework for our change methodology.




Every organization regardless of size or sector needs their set of CIO priorities, which is at the heart of most organization changes.  The eight cited by Orbus are compelling and should inspire a dynamic debate in both the boardroom and the C-suite. Once priorities are determined, the rigorous work of implementation – change enablement – ensues. Ignore the two requirements for change-enablement at your peril. Change-enabled organizations have tools and a methodology to drive successful and value added change.


1 Top StrategicIssues for CIO Issues for 2014, Orbus Software,, as derived from Top 10 Strategic CIO Issues for 2014,

2 Understanding Technology Driven Change in Organizations, March 14, 2014,

3 Software Project Failure Costs Billions.. Better Estimation & Planning Can Help, Dan Galorath, June 7, 2012,


Copyright TBO International June 2014

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