April 16, 2013

Plus is the New Normal – A Session at Interop 2013

CIO Innovation Sessions at Interop. Register Now

This is part one of a series of 4 blogs highlighting the CIO Innovation Sessions being held May 7-9, 2013 at Interop in Las Vegas.  Register today to attend The New “CIO-Plus”: Aligning Business Needs with IT by Joanna Young, CIO and AVP of Finance at The University of New Hampshire in booth #1026.

A long time ago in an organization far far away, the Chief Information Officer (CIO) was most likely responsible for data center, network, servers, storage, and application development. They knew technology.

In a recent Gartner survey, the top four business and technology priorities are: 1) Increasing enterprise growth, 2) Deliver operational results, 3) Reducing enterprise costs, 4) Attracting and retaining new customers. Of the four, ensuring uptime and reducing IT costs, yesterday’s mantra of IT success, are only a part of 2 and 3.

Read most any blog, article or treatise on CIO success and items like “strategy,” “influence,” “innovation,” “change agent,” “talent management,” and “social” are the terms that pop up most. The most valued characteristic of a CIO today is business knowledge. The questions he or she needs to answer tend to be: How can the organization increase revenue? How can we increase customer delight? How can the supply chain work better? What digital marketing strategies should we pursue? Where could our back office be more efficient?

The CIO role is now yesterday’s CIO plus a lot more. Successful CIOs negotiated and managed big contracts with technology titans, so they know how to seek and get a good deal. They squeezed pennies by employing virtualization, cloud services, automated monitoring, so they know how to be efficient. They fought to hire and retain talent, so they know how to form and keep a good team. They kept information secure, so they know risk management. They managed big budgets and big projects, keeping them under control, so they know how to get stuff done. They survived mergers, acquisitions, and reorganizations, so they know change management.

So it is not a surprise that the term “CIO Plus” is getting some traction. CIOs are taking on more accountability in finance, operations, even sales or marketing. And why not? Business runs on technology, and a good CIO and their teams are involved from idea to implementation on most if not all of the systems on which a business runs. Which means he or she knows the business process and what makes that process tick and turn out good results.

Who of us has not taken on additional responsibility to get to the next level of our career? The answer to “how would you like to take on ….” should be along the lines of “sounds cool, appreciate you thinking of me.” Or better yet, don’t even wait to be asked. Volunteer or just start doing it. In fast food parlance, look for ways to supersize your role.

My leadership role right now includes technology, finance & process engineering. People will say “wow, how do you do multiple jobs?” I’m not doing multiple jobs. I’m doing one job: contributing to the greatest extent possible to the success of the organization.

Whether you are in year 1 or several decades into your career, static is the new minus if you are looking to progress or more importantly if your organization is to thrive. Plus is the new normal.


April is Distracted Driver Awareness Month. People who text while driving are 23 times more likely to crash. Learn more at http://www.distraction.gov/

Originally published on April 14th, 2013 on http://cio.unh.edu/

About The Contributor:

As CIO for University of New Hampshire, Ms. Young is accountable for applications and infrastructure supporting all university functions, including learning management systems, distance learning, student and advancement systems, university system enterprise services, networks, servers and data centers. Current priorities include academic, advancement and research projects, cyberinfrastructure, virtualization, project management practice implementation, increase in revenue through grant funding and market expansion, design of technology-enabled academic and conference facilities, and expansion of cyber-infrastructure at UNH and throughout New Hampshire.

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