Panel Moderator: Scott Crowder – SVP and CIO of BMC Software
Panelists: Todd Lant – CIO of Blackbaud, Michael Mullis – CIO of Ingevity and Rohan Pal – CIO & CDO of Brinks, Inc.

“Gone are the days of being in the engine room…”

After years of casual courting, IT and the business are finally forging effective ways of working together to pursue shared objectives. The CIO’s responsibilities once focused almost entirely on selecting and managing technology solutions. But, the last few years have seen the role of IT shift to largely supporting enterprise strategy through technology, including the creation of new digital business models. CIOs must now be immersed in both technology and business, all while ensuring the organization has the right platforms in place that pave the way to the future.

Partnering with the business for best-of-breed technology has posed a real challenge for capital intensive companies. Think about it. Environments weren’t architected for cloud – they were designed for on-premises and carried specific cost structures associated with that approach. Corporate side economics are real and accounting rules are different in the cloud world, which is forcing CIOs to change the way they build their IT strategy. Continuing to invest in legacy platforms no longer flies.

It can be very difficult to explain the capital expenditure or operating expenditure while vying for IT budgets and approvals. Back in the day, it was relatively easy to procure capital expenses which benefited from favorable accounting treatments. But, the future is increasingly operating expense. How do you come up with money in that scenario? CIOs must learn the benefits of accounting for technology investments as an operational expense versus a capital expense and be able to articulate the potential financial implications to the CFO when he or she asks, “Stop doing things to us and start doing things for us.”

According to IDG’s 2018 State of the CIO survey, almost half (49%) of business respondents now consider IT a strategic advisor for proactively identifying new opportunities and for making technology recommendations. The business will always ask for more, so why not include them in decisions by giving them (educated, evaluated, encouraged…) options?

Here’s a tip to simplify the choices people must make by creating two easy options. Use the magic words, “…two kinds of people.” Ask them to decide for themselves based on having to choose between two (rather than many) options. Let’s practice. “There are two types of people in this world. Those who resist change in favor of nostalgia, and those who move with the times and create a better future.” You should be able to see how the options are stacked in favor of the decision you’d like them to pick.

CIOs are devising a series of tactics to proactively foster closer relationships with the business. They are creating new business engagement roles that share “…a seat at the table” for operational activities – becoming the voice and ears from IT to the executives and sharing insights to trends and relevant capabilities coming their way.

Technology and our supporting roles will continue to change at the speed of light, so take a hard look at what your core competencies are and “subscribe” what’s not a core business competency. As one panelist put it, “If you’re spending too much time thinking about “-as-a-service”, you’re probably not very strategic.”

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