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14 important skills to help CIOs succeed

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According to Christie Struckman from Gartner, an effective CIO must hone the skills of tasking, prioritisation and time management to make a significant difference in their work.

The world of CIOs continues to change rapidly. Democratising approaches to information systems, the new business economy and increasing customer expectations demand that CIOs are experienced leaders.

Outside of the IT world, there are a number of opportunities for every CIO to develop management skills. A Gartner study found that over the past three years, 83% of CIOs have been actively involved in company-wide initiatives - initiatives that go beyond IT infrastructure management.

This year, 73% of CIOs expect to participate in at least one initiative outside of their core job.

CIOs must take the next step to extend their influence over the company and strengthen their management and leadership skills. They can strengthen their influence by focusing on developing the 14 skills described below.

It may seem like 14 items is a lot. However, such a number shows how complex the role of a top manager is. Soft skills, interpersonal competences, are crucial for CIOs who want to be in the right place in company management and influence business results.

1. Understanding the company's business

A CIO always needs to know how a company operates in order to apply the right technology to improve its performance. As time progresses, the task becomes more complex as services start to be delivered digitally, customer buying experiences are accumulated, and there is a need to provide new value to employees from working for the company.

CIOs must fully understand the organisation's business model and have an idea of how to use IT to improve the organisation's profitability, reduce costs and minimise risk.

2. Market Knowledge

In a rapidly changing world, CIOs must know where to look for information. Executives who are willing to change are better prepared for new data and as a result can take effective action quickly. The CIO must be aware of where to look for information and how to process it. As part of the CIO's own development, it is worthwhile to hone these skills and use information from the marketplace for their own company's initiatives.

3. Social Intelligence

Social intelligence refers to a person's ability to understand and manage interpersonal relationships. As the use of technology changes companies, CIOs must help top management adapt to these changes. To improve and strengthen their competencies, CIOs must develop social skills, learn to sense colleagues and build strong bonds with them.

4. Strategic Thinking

CIOs must learn to drive results by adding value through technology. Strategic thinking is about finding and developing unique opportunities to create value by initiating creative dialogue among employees that can impact the growth of the organization. CIOs should become part of this dialogue and offer insights in strategy sessions.

5. Brand and presence

A leader's presence has an amazing impact on the ability to influence people. The personal brand is what the CIO will be remembered for. Collectively, brand contributes to the CIO's ability to influence his or her peers when he or she needs investment. CIOs who want to expand their role should work on their own image and ability to influence so that they are better perceived.

6. Conflict management

Conflict is good for organisations, but managing conflict is difficult for most CIOs. Conflicts are constructive when they focus on the problem, generate discussion and offer a clear path to resolution. CIOs who can afford to 'dissent' will benefit, knowing that disagreement will lead to a better outcome for the organisation. IT executives working to develop conflict management skills should explore an approach to structured constructive confrontation that reduces conflict and increases accountability by integrating people's wishes and company requirements.

7. effective communication

Effective communication is at the heart of relationship building and is a channel for driving change, protecting resources, and achieving results. To influence and inspire the IT department, top management and the board of directors, CIOs must improve their communication skills. To be effective, communication must be across the board.

8. The art of negotiation

Influence is the CIO's primary tool for inspiring change and securing technology investments. Negotiation is almost always necessary to successfully influence colleagues and executives. To be a successful negotiator, CIOs must develop relationships and influence among senior executives and vendors before they are needed and engage them at the right time to achieve results. Learn to determine what is most effective in negotiating with different audiences.

9. Weight in the company

All leadership positions involve the exercise of power. However, to develop executive relationships, CIOs must actively develop other forms of power and authority. They must learn to create and utilise their own 'political' capital within the company.

10. Cultural intelligence

CIOs, as executives, are responsible for shaping and managing corporate culture. As IT becomes the backbone of the enterprise, it becomes even more important for CIOs to develop and inspire a culture that serves the business strategy and enables strategic results. CIOs must become experts in their organisation's culture and understand how to effectively change it.

11. Change Management

New opportunities for CIOs to expand their influence are associated with major changes in the business structure and IT delivery model. As part of this evolution, the CIO needs to help the organisation understand, embrace and navigate changes in team structures and new ways of working. As the pace and volume of change increases, CIOs need to develop capabilities that will help the organisation through the changes.

12. Decision Making

Digital business requires quick decision making. Decisions are often cancelled because someone in the company's management disagrees with them and insists on revising them. To avoid wrong, slow or rash decisions, CIOs should follow decision-making practices that will ensure better results. These include research methodologies and ways of working together.

13. Delegation

CIOs who think they can and should do everything will not succeed. Advanced delegation tactics are a must for CIOs leading business and IT transformation initiatives. Instead of spending time "putting out fires" and managing IT infrastructure, CIOs should delegate these tasks. Judiciously reallocating core work to other employees and outside vendors will allow CIOs to focus on what's most important.

14. Prioritisation and focus

Personal effectiveness means maximising the productive use of self as a leader. CIOs must lead on many fronts and pay attention to many possible priorities. Success lies in focusing energy, skills, and experience on setting and achieving goals for overall performance and one's career development.

To achieve personal effectiveness, CIOs must learn proven tactics for goal setting, prioritising and time management to fully utilise all strengths and achieve the desired results.

The integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) into business operations marks a transformative era, enhancing efficiency and innovation across industries. From revolutionizing HR with automated recruitment to aiding early disease detection in healthcare, AI's impact is profound. It enables predictive cybersecurity, personalized customer interactions, and accelerated software development in IT. 

Lots of news from technology vendors and modern cases on how to use data analytics for operations excellence – this is what March brought us this year.

In this issue we looked at the drivers and bright trends in retail. AI will undoubtedly be the leader among technologies for several years ahead in retail, and in the economy in general. Its emergence in wide access has opened up incredible opportunities for improving business efficiency.

“Before the automation introduction, the process was complicated by the fact that the address system was stationary, not dynamic. We could not automate serial and batch accounting of products. It was not possible to automate the warehouse replenishment processes, both planned and on order. The accounting system did not reflect all goods movements,” says Alexander Permyakov, head of the warehouse complex.

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