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The role of the CIO is rapidly changing! Recent research tells the story that a digital CIO is a man of marketing – to create a “platform of trust” with business and re-brand the IT organization. It is all about managing expectations in every interaction with business. But what does it mean? And how to get started? It is simpilar than you think!

I try to read as many research papers as possible that describes the digital affects on the IT organizations and role of CIO. Each research paper gives a small but valuable piece to the digital puzzle. They all have one thing in common, the fact that the role of CIO is rapidly changing. It is no longer a technical experts that monitors servers. Rather a business enabler that bridge the gap between IT and Business – a pivotal role in the digital transformation. While 2/3 of business leaders state that they are not prepared for digitalization (Ricoh 2016), they are mostly satisfied with the CIO and his/her capabilities of driving the digital transformation. I ask myself, what are the key elements in the CIO capabilities that are necessary for driving change?

When I talk to CIOs, I see that the digital transformation is high on their agenda. However, the CIO need to build a ‘platform of trust’ with business – in terms on stability, cost efficiency, risk mitigation, business collaboration and value creation – to gain access to the strategic partnership with business going forward and drive the digital agenda.

Further reading (Platform of Trust): https://hansgillior.wordpress.com/2016/02/03/platform-of-trust-key-for-digitalization-in-2016/

I see too many IT organizations jumping from a stability focus (not achieving the platform of trust) to running a digital agenda with little success. Let’s try to avoid that!

The Ricoh CIO study (public sector, 2016) confirmed by reasoning. The top three CIO capabilities today (selected by business leaders) were quite surprising.

  1. Communication & Marketing
  2. Technical expertise
  3. Business understanding

The successful CIO (valued by the business leaders) is one that easily can communicate and “sell” a new role of IT for driving the digital transformation. It is a marketing person! As we all know, marketing is based on a ‘platform of trust’ between the vendor and the client. It is difficult to sell anything if the reputation has been blackened by poor quality or too expensive services. How do you react when you have bought a new car that soon breaks down and cost more than expected? Will you buy a similar brand again – and what will you tell your friends? Trust (in all business interactions) is obviously built on the expectations we as customers have on the commodity or service we buy – to create great experience. We have in our minds expectations on everything we do and buy that can either be fulfilled or lost. We constantly evaluate brands, people and situations to figure out what we like and don’t like. So, the modern digital CIO is all about managing expectations, building a ‘platform of trust’ and re-brand the IT organization. What is interesting is that expectations are managed in all interactions between IT and business – and not just the final delivery of a project. It is called Moment of Truth!

Further reading (Moment of Truth): https://hansgillior.wordpress.com/2014/06/12/moment-of-truth-basis-for-customer-experience/

But wasn’t this a study relating to public CIO? Slow down! Couldn’t it be that the situation for public CIOs are different than for corporate CIO? Well, that is up for interpretations but my view is that public CIOs have very similar situation than corporate CIO – maybe a bit more challenging in driving the digital agenda. For me, the logical reasoning works also for a corporate CIO.

My point of view is that running IT is more or less like running any other business. IT has its product/services, price list, customers, budget and interaction with customers. If IT does not deliver what is expected from its customer – the customer will go somewhere else (shadow IT). Digitalization is changing (very much for IT) the customer demand requiring faster and relevant services delivered without any problem. As any other business, the IT department has to address these requirements but also be proactive and highlight how IT can support its customer’s competitiveness – by managing expectations, building a “platform of trust” and re-brand the IT organization. Try to imagine the alternative!


  • Try to view the CIO’s roll as a man of marketing – with an aim to re-brand the IT organization. What would that mean for you? Would you need to learn more about marketing and sales?
  • Ask yourself, what are you doing to build a “platform of trust”? How are you managing expectations? What happens when the “platform of trust” falls?
  • It is important to figure out what marketing message the IT organization want to communicate to business. How would you describe IT’s value proposition in a sentence or two?
  • Contact Hans Gillior (Sofigate) and we will discuss how to build a “platform of trust” and re-brand the IT organization. That is what we do!

To tell someone to re-brand the IT organization is quite easy – but to take the first step on the journey is trickier. How does marketing fit in too our daily work of budgeting, vendor negotiations and reporting? The fact is that marketing fits into every part of the CIO daily agenda. Think about how you are perceived in the vendor negotiations or weekly meeting with your team or in meetings with business. What messages (verbal and physical) to do communicate? How important do signal that they are for you? That is where it all starts – with a smile.

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