CIO contribution is often assessed on the basis of IT value indicator which most of the time is improved when costs lower, quality of service rises, and risk level is acceptable. Furthermore, some firms expect from CIO to be one of their most important change agent. This is an opportunity for CIO’s which helps to bring them front and to give them a true strategic role. Then, the scope of CIO is not limited to IT Division but encompasses the whole company.
Often in the past, the widespread thought was that’s enough to find the right technology and company people will immediately get it and change its way of working.
Today, companies are less keen to adopt technologies without a strong rationale, even if some of them meet some expectations of end users.
In the same time, after a study which clearly demonstrate the value of a technology, some companies undergo a slow adoption and some time not exactly with the use which have been planned. This is also true regarding technologies offerings to customer. For example, WAP adoption never reach expectations despite huge investments. Enterprise 2.0 too brings simple and powerful technologies for business collaboration but encouters slow adoption.
Since the use of technology matters much more than their intrinsic capabilities, adoption and change are key factors of success. Clearly CIO role is critical as he use to have the technological leadership and everybody expects he drives adoption.
For being able to succeed, CIO need to pay attention not only to company capabilities and performance, but to culture as well. Culture may be either one the main helpers or a big hurdle. For example, in some places where people are expected to be expert in their fields, getting a new technology is viewed as an advantage. In other places, where managers should masters theory, design concepts and drives realisation, new technology is more an hurdle for developers who loose productivity and for managers who loose competences. Nobody see it as a personal opportunity.
Culture use to change across different countries, american workers value becoming experts in their job, at the opposite french workers value management competences. CIO needs to understand how culture plays in technological adoption and what to undertake to curbing hurdles. Social activities in the company may be an interesting support to fuel change. For example, creating clubs of early adopters which are viewed by top management, may be a help but they are hard to maintain because, in an optimal communication, message should bring real value to addressee, at least which worth the time of reading.
All the art of CIO is to find the good communication levers which improve technology perception and prepare people minds to such a change. This is his only and main strategic stake.