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The CIO's first order of business

Owen McCall | Aug. 23, 2013
Before you can be influential you need to be seen as fundamentally competent.

You have to be strategically relevant, that is, you have to understand your business and the issues your peers are dealing with on a daily basis. This is particularly so where the issues relate to the customers and markets you serve and how your organisation differentiates itself to compete in these markets.

You have to be influential with your peers so that when you talk knowledgeably about how IT can deliver value to the business or how IT was altering the competitive landscape, they listen.

I had no hope of being influential at that meeting with my CEO because in his mind, at that moment, I was seen as being incompetent.

So it was stuck in my mind, as a CIO the first order of business is to be competent. For a CIO, core competence means:

1. The organisation's systems are reliable and run when needed and when the users expect them to run;

2. We deliver projects on budget, within a reasonable time frame and with the functionality and user experience that is expected;

3. We are a prudent and effective steward of the organisation's resources particularly cash.

When you do these things well, people begin to acknowledge that you are competent and worth listening to. If you add fantastic customer experience to this core competence, then you begin to create advocates. Advocates are gold because not only do they say great things about you but they trust you, listen to you, and are open to influence.

This is where true partnership begins and through partnering with your peers comes the real and tangible opportunity to create value.


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