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CIO: Chief Innovation Officer or Chief Innovation Obstacle?

on February 7, 2012

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The role of the Chief Information Officer has changed dramatically over the last decade. As new technologies permeate large organizations, CIOs amass powerful capabilities to change the value propositions of their companies. Research firms like Forrester convey the prevalence of CIOs involved in strategic innovation and product decisions that would have once been left to marketing and sales executives. Tomorrow’s CIO is a Chief Innovation Officer.

Chief Innovation OfficerSpeed of change is an incredibly important indicator of an IT team’s effectiveness. A CIO that spends 80% of their resources maintaining existing systems limits their impact on strategic innovation. Those that enable rapid business change become heroes. The very basis for this blog is business agility, a characteristic owned in large by those that manage technology to enable and serve the business.

CIOs use Mendix as a secret weapon for enabling innovation because Mendix doesn’t require them to activate teams of developers to get significant initiatives underway. A large part of enabling rapid business innovation means getting your IT ecosystem in check so that you have enough time to focus on new initiatives. In this use case, Mendix sits on top of existing systems as an agile change layer – giving teams of one or two ‘special ops’ developers the power to innovate without dealing with rigid underlying systems or overweight requirements documentation.

IT teams at most organizations are expected to take a disproportionate amount of time to complete projects. Their business unit customers have no idea what’s involved, and even then, project teams may have unknowns that could easily turn into productivity black holes. We’ve all been conditioned to think that initiatives involving technology have an innate uncertainty in scope. This keeps business units from voicing suggestions and IT units from changing the status quo.

Clearly there are several factors in play when it comes to ensuring CIO’s have the power to innovate. There’s the speed and cost of change at the center of any initiative, these numbers have to create a business case with a real return. Then there are technological capabilities; does the CIO’s team spend too much time maintaining and not enough time producing? Can they separate the two activities and align them with business needs both now and in the future? And of course, the organization – is there opportunity for a CIO to innovate, and more importantly, can the CIO find these gaps?

CIOs frequently see business opportunities go by the wayside due to an inability to deliver applications quickly. In order to be a Chief Innovation Officer, today’s CIO should focus on enabling rapid business change to become a strategic player for their organization.

Download our CIO Playbook for more Mendix best practices for CIOs.

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