How to reinvent yourself after you have delivered your transformation

Bringing organisations to a successful digital transformation journey is the ultimate goal of any CIO.

In your case, this has already been achieved. Through your acclaimed leadership you have not only ditched every single paper record in the office, you have also coordinated and made reality a full system migration into the cloud. Your customers and stakeholders are happy. The board is exultant.

What’s next for you then? You are probably toying with the idea of moving on to a new post or venture after accomplishing your mission. But have you considered reinventing yourself as CIO and continuing to deliver transformation by confronting new challenges?

Reinvention is more than a surface change: it can be a radical transmutation that affects the core of your role and has the potential for disrupting your business. It can be a daunting prospect and there are risks involved but remaining static has a darker forecast. Kodak and Polaroid painfully reminded us that stagnation means death by stasis.

An example of a successful reinvention is the case of Netflix: taking advantage of the void left behind by Blockbuster – a business which wasn’t able to transform itself and failed – Reed Hastings, Netflix CEO, used customer satisfaction as the main driver of product development.

This enabled him and his team to anticipate the move to online video streaming of the early 2000s, which was just the first chapter in their impressive success tale.

Whereas there’s no need to go to extremes, listening to new trends and ideas might be useful and beneficial. Challenges are not only obstacles but also opportunities – opportunities to thrive and bring progress.

Below are some ideas that you might want to consider in your reinvention journey.

Go back to school

A popular route senior IT executives take to reinvent themselves is pursuing an MBA. A formal qualification will no doubt be welcomed in the boardroom and will further equip you with the knowledge and jargon required in business conversation.

After earning an MBA you’ll be considered a business expert on top of your already consolidated IT-savvy reputation. More important, your C-suite colleagues will see you as someone who has insights and opinions to offer rather than being just the ‘tech person’.

In an interview with sister publication, Fiona Adler, CTO of Australian productivity software developer, explained how she believes that an MBA also helps IT leaders to better understand the needs of other business areas.

“An MBA gives you the language to effectively communicate with other disciplines within the business,” said Adler, who holds an MBA from Melbourne Business School. “This allows someone with an IT focus to come up with solutions that truly benefit the organisation.”

Because digital transformation is forcing IT to focus more closely on business partners’ needs, getting an MBA helps IT professionals broaden their experience and provides them with a holistic view of how the organisation operates and makes them more effective team players.

Above all, an MBA will give you the base to reinvent your new role with valuable experience and knowledge of finance, strategy and accounting.

Work with startups

Having been the brains behind an organisation’s digital transformation journey, you might find it ridiculous to look at businesses with less experience than yours for inspiration. Think again.

The ability of startups to adapt to new trends and live in a state of constant innovation could be a valuable source of inspiration for rejuvenating your role.

For startups, innovation and agility are not just a matter of success but of sheer survival. In an increasingly aggressive market, fresh and innovative concepts, as well as a quasi-religious faith in trend-setting ideas, are a way of ensuring that your voice is heard.

CIOs from major organisations, such as Harvey Nichols or News UK, have achieved considerable gains from their collaborations with startups, including obtaining privileged working relationships with startups that can get prototypes and trials ready in remarkably shorter timeframes than a legacy partner might be able (or willing) to.

Startups need to maximise productivity often on a shoestring budget, especially at the early stages before early rounds of investment. You might see startups making use of free and open source software, for example, to avoid running into expensive licensing issues – something that could ultimately be attractive to an open-minded CFO.

Stay at the forefront of emerging tech

Following tech developments relevant to your sector, building contacts among industry professionals and keeping a curious eye will guarantee that you never miss the tools that can make your business thrive and adapt to volatile markets.

It is also a great way of continuously reinventing yourself and refreshing your role as CIO. Since emerging tech is in a constant state of evolution, following trends and exploring in-depth their uses and applications will make you a chief technologist who knows what tools have the potential of disrupting your market.

According to , C-suite executives should keep an eye on the following emerging technologies: business and robotic process automation; artificial intelligence (AI); blockchain; cryptocurrency; Internet of Things (IoT); virtual/augmented Reality (VR/AR); augmented analysis; mobile everything; wearables; and cybersecurity and privacy.

Although each of the above technologies has its own benefits and business transformation potential, they also require additional training and skills which are not always easy to find, particularly when it comes to AI or VR/AR. Rather than seeing this as an obstacle, take it as an opportunity for reinvention – when it comes to emerging tech, the sky’s the limit.


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