The CIO’s spectator guide to digital strategy

Apparently hundreds, if not thousands of CIO’s around the world are sitting in the cheap seats and many more are way up in the nosebleed section of Digital Enterprise Park.

In a report on Digital Leadership in the C-Suite recently released by my research colleagues at Leading Edge Forum it was found that only 35% of CIOs thought that they would be asked to be part of a C-level digital leadership strategy!

That means that 65% of technology leaders in major enterprises admit that they are either self-marginalized or sidelined by senior corporate management in regard to digital deployment skills.

Whether football, soccer or baseball, many of us know that despite not being able to play the sport any longer, we’d desperately like to stay closely engaged as a spectator or pundit.

I’m thinking that a Sky Sports, ESPN or Barstool Sports might be of interest to CIOs who would like to remain vicariously relevant in the sport of digital strategy, despite being “cut” or sent to the minors by digital C-team management.

Like many sports radio call-in shows, a spectators’ guide gives the CIO the ability to second-guess team management and to vent about the lack of performance of the highly paid digital position-players and pitchers.

So here are a few of the current memes with a sports twist that CIOs around the world need to know about digital strategy from a spectator’s viewpoint. (NOTE: If you needed to click on the ‘meme” link for a definition this may be part of your digital leadership problem).

  1. You’ll notice that the front office will overcompensate on the side of recruiting or trading for a player who has “digital” in their title. In the longer term you will come to see that this person has the organizational popularity of Michael Vick and as such becomes a common enemy across all business units.
  1. Even the highest-paid players spend some time in the minors during rehab or slumps. CIOs should not be humiliated by building or rebuilding their digital credentials by working on smaller, lower-impact projects in order to establish a path back into the majors. One way of doing this is by embedding IT into some of the BU subdivisions to get very close to the customer and their client base.
  1. There can be no better way of building relevance and job security than by staying very close to the fans who buy the tickets. Legends like Beckham, Ali, Jeter and the Shaq have the ability to combine incredible talent with customer engagement. On the other hand many CIOs take a Marshawn Lynch inside-out approach and remain cloistered in the IT suite with little contact with the fan base.
  1. You can win a championship with the lowest team payroll if you inspire young talent. Given the nature of digital strategy, many of your youngest players will have skills that the aging veterans will never be able to acquire. Millennials and Generation Z’s see digital as their second natural language, and they have the ability to win internally by translating business challenges to 21st century solutions. There’s a lot to be said for having the rookies teach the older all-stars to establish digital competitive advantage.

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