CIOs urged to be 'catalysts for change'

In addition, CIOs are expected to lead the transformation of the IT organization into a model of the enterprise of the future

CEOs worldwide are expecting significant changes in the months to come but feel that the ability to manage change -- an opportunity for CIOs to be the "catalysts for change" in their organizations -- has not grown at the same pace.

However, change is just one challenge CIOs are faced with. In a Global CEO Study conducted by IBM Corp. this year, the collective insights of more than 1,000 CEOs representing 32 industries have been collated into five core traits of what IBM dubs as the Enterprise of the Future.

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The traits are:

1. Hungry for change. "The next four to five years is going to be very tough, thus, CEOs are expecting faster, broader more uncertain change in their companies," says Colin Powell, IBM Asia Pacific consulting services leader. "The world is shrinking, creating the need for speed and change."

2. Innovative beyond customer imagination. Powell says CEOs now recognize that customers are more informed and intelligent, thus, they want their organizations to be effective at engaging the new and changing customer. "CEOs want to satisfy the information omnivore," he points out.

3. Globally integrated. Jeanine Cotter, vice president for systems services of the IBM Global Technology Services group, says CEOs are moving aggressively toward global business designs, deeply changing their capabilities, partnering more extensively, and using mergers and acquisitions to grow.

4. Disruptive by nature. "CEOs don't want to stay in their comfort zone. They want a disruptive business model that is adaptable to different ways in doing things," says Powell.

5. Genuine, not just generous. Explaining the fifth trait, Cotter says responding to customer expectations of corporate social responsibility is an opportunity for CEOs to differentiate themselves from the rest. Cotter says CSRs include manufacturing products with right governance, such as "going green" and making sure product components are safe. "CEOs see CSR as an engine for growth, thus, they want to include it in their values and business strategy," she notes.

With the identification of these five core traits, Cotter says CIOs are expected to play two key roles in the transformation of the enterprise to that of the future. The roles are as catalyst for change across the enterprise as the service provider and ally of the CEO, and as leader of the transformation of the IT organization into a model of the enterprise of the future.

"The CIOs direction is needed to deliver results in each area of the enterprise of the future vision," says Cotter. To enable change, she says CIOs must apply unique IT applications and mitigate risks associated with new opportunities.

Explaining how CIOs can "innovate beyond customer innovation," Cotter says CIOs must turn information into business insight. "They need to empower customers by giving them secure access to relevant information," she adds.

Meanwhile, to allow the enterprise to be globally integrated, CIOs are advised to remove operational, technological, and cultural barriers. "Build on common standards and shared services," suggests Cotter. "Create a collaborative working environment."

To enable a disruptive business model, Cotter says CIOs need to remove obstacles to business model changes and facilitate rapid integration of acquisitions and mergers.

Lastly, to support the CEOs vision of a "genuine, not just generous enterprise," CIOs need to initiate green computing campaigns, reduce the environmental impacts of their technology infrastructure, and enhance workforce mobility alternatives.