featured, General, IT, Mobility, Uncategorized

The CIO Role – From Tech Manager to IT Services Broker

27 Mar , 2013  

Recently I was asked to define the role of a CIO in medium-sized businesses so I thought I would share my thoughts and research on the topic. There are many definitions of the CIO’s role. Traditionally the CIO role is defined as managing technology for the business and managing how information is utilized. Views vary whether the role is best served by a business person or a technologist.

In fact, the role of CIO has changed significantly  in medium-sized businesses over the past several years. Once viewed as order takers and leaders of the “techie group”, CIOs now work with the CEO and senior executives to understand current and future business goals, develop technical strategies that enable and facilitate those goals, bring technology enabling opportunities to the business, and create alignment within the IT organization and across its actions.

Effective CIOs see the big picture, understand and anticipate where the business is going, anticipate what challenges may be faced and what opportunities might arise that can be leveraged to benefit a medium-sized business.  CIOs take the initiative to distil changes in the technology marketplace, translate those changes into business value, surface technology-based opportunities, innovate and experiment, and lead cross-organization initiatives to achieve the strategic and tactical business goals.

As an example, the CIO must anticipate the impact of changes from a workforce that is more mobile, works from many locations, uses multiple devices (corporate and personally owned), and has “consumer expectations” of IT technology.

The CIO’s new role is to serve as a broker or conduit to business and technology solutions, assist in re-engineering business processes, educate the organization about potentially valuable technologies, and negotiation with and manage vendors. Most importantly, the CIO facilitates the organization’s access to online services, business applications, hardware and software tools, and technology-based services.

CIOs constantly ask themselves and the organization questions such as:

  • What are the impacts of business decisions on how we work, who we hire, and what business processes must change?
  • Are we capitalizing on technology for shareholder/member value and business profitability?
  • How do we foster a high-performance, creative and collaborative culture?
  • How can we better empower the organization with technology to make it more productive, efficient and lean?
  • What new innovations can IT bring to the business?
  • What technical skills are needed, and how do we develop internal staff and leverage external talent?
  • How do we identify and leverage the company’s knowledge resources?
  • What information exists or is needed by the organization, and how can we transform that information into company-wide solutions?
  • What new or changes in technologies have implications to the business?
  • What can IT do to be more efficient and effective in our use of technology?

Sources for this post: In addition to my own views on the topic, there were also several useful resources if found as part of my research. Some views matched up very well, while others held a differing opinion. Feel free to check out these resources.

Short URL to this post: http://goo.gl/fzH5K

IBMThis post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

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Apps, Cloud, featured, IT, Mobility

Bring Your Own Cloud (BYOC) Strategies for Medium-Sized Business

6 Mar , 2013  

 Short URL to this post: http://goo.gl/E0kiL

Bring Your Own Cloud (BYOC) is here and will only increase its presence in medium-sized businesses. iPhone users store company information, including files and emails, in their personal iCloud account. Staff utilize Dropbox and Evernote to manage confidential business information, notes and files. We should only expect continued growth of this trend and our best approach is to get ahead of it, not in front it.

What are IT adoption strategies for BYOC? I prefer to be realistic about such trends. IT customers will continue to utilize their own productivity devices, software and the online services they feel will aid them in the work environment, whether it’s sanctioned by the business or not. If IT doesn’t provide them, IT customers will acquire it themselves. If IT attempts to block their use, our customers will just do it anyway. Company policies on these matters aren’t effective because there are no serious consequences for violations, so IT customers use unapproved consumer cloud services anyway.

Business Editions – Finally

Consumer cloud services have taken a page right out of Apple’s “camel’s nose under the tent” playbook: rely on employees to bring consumer cloud services into the enterprise instead of working through the tedious and more stringent IT approval process. But consumer clouds’ success brings with it the message from the business that these services need to add more robust enterprise management, security and user account management capabilities. And many services are beginning to do just that, often in a slow and incremental fashion, but they are making the move towards addressing IT’s needs. Consider the following business-friendly alternatives to consumer cloud services.

Evernote now offers Evernote Business, a hybrid cloud service connecting personal Evernote accounts with shared business notebooks managed by your company. This allows Evernote users within a company to access, modify and manage notebooks controlled by your company, while still maintaining the privacy of users’ personal Evernote notebooks.

Dropbox offers Dropbox for Teams, taking the simplicity of shared folders to the next level. Businesses can create, share and manage access to folders they control, view user activities, control whether company folders can be shared with others outside the company, and enforce two-step user verification.

Box.com and ownCloud are comparable to business versions of Dropbox, while offering much, much more. Box.com is one of the most business friendly and mature file sharing cloud offerings available. Box.com offers passwords and time limits on shared files and folders, activity logging and audit trails, mobile clients, extensive user management, AD and LDAP integration, social collaboration, and a community of application developers significantly expanding upon the Box.com platform.

ownCloud is an open source software, private cloud, internally operated alternative to Dropbox and it possess a significant number of the management capabilities required IT. ownCloud offers content management (including restricting the types of files that can be shared), file versioning, encryption, mobile clients, user management through LDAP and Active Directory, and open APIs. If you haven’t checked out ownCloud, you owe it to yourself to do so.

These are just a few of the medium-sized business friendly cloud service alternatives to consumer cloud offerings. If your IT customers are using services such as Dropbox or Evernote, consider the business edition alternatives we’ve discussed here.

IBMThis post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

 

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