The New CTO – Chief Transformation Officer

The New CTO – Chief Transformation Officer

When we think of technology, we mostly think of the most visible, in your face, technology – like computers or mobile phones. Or we might think of the changes that have occurred due to the digitization of business or our personal lives. But it’s not just in the obvious places that technology is having an impact – and in the world of business, that means opportunity. As I suggested recently, CIOs are being called upon to deliver more innovation and corporate impact. Likewise, the chief technology officer (CTO) is being challenged – not just around the notion of technology, but in the way that technology is transforming the business landscape. Let’s take a look at one small example – wearable tech. Once upon a time, business people would wear pagers on their belts. They would carry BlackBerrys in their pockets. And this would provide them with connectedness – with email and business applications wherever they may be. This meant that the time between client meetings could be productive. It meant that business travel didn’t separate business leaders from the running of the organization.We could not only make calls to prospects, check in on our teams and so on, we could make decisions, email colleagues and act on the information that we received. But wearable technology was still clumsy and simplistic in its impact. Over the last five years, technology has improved and become smaller. We know from Moore’s Law that computing power doubles approximately every two years, and at the same time, that technology shrinks. The average smart phone now carries more processing power than was used to put...
Finalists Announced for the 2013 Stevie Awards for Women in Business

Finalists Announced for the 2013 Stevie Awards for Women in Business

Each year, the Stevie Awards are held to honor and recognize the achievements and positive contributions of business people and organizations around the world. Awards are made in a range of categories from Sales and Customer Service to Women in Business. This year, they celebrate their 10th anniversary. Back in 2008, I was awarded a Stevie Award as Best Executive in a Services Business (over 2500 employees). It was a surprising and humbling experience. But it also firmly aligned with my personal goals – to encourage, motivate and empower women to chase their dreams. The 2013 Stevie Awards finalists have now been selected. They have been assessed by a panel of over 150 judges across a range of business categories from product, media and marketing through to entrepreneurship and company/enterprise and non-profit groupings. I am excited to see so many women being recognized for their contribution and achievement. Be sure to take a good look through the list. The winners will be announced at the 10th annual awards dinner on Friday, November 8 in New York. Tickets are now on sale. In the meantime, over on the Stevie Awards blog, they have pulled together a potted history of past winners. Under the theme “where are they now,” you can get a snapshot of the recent histories of business leaders like Marla Letizia, COO at Big Traffic LLC, Madolyn Johnson, CEO of Signature HomeStyles, Sandy Forster, CEO of WildlyWealthy.com, Liz Ryan, CEO of Human Workplace; and yes, me too. Image: Aural Asia via...
The New CIO – The Chief Impact Officer

The New CIO – The Chief Impact Officer

There once was a time when the driving force for corporate innovation was comfortably at home with the office of the CIO. It was a time when technology was vast and confusing – and in the corporate world – had newly emerged as a powerful way to drive efficiencies, transform supply chains and bring financial accountability to ever more complex global operations. And at the core of all this was information. Coupling the information of a business with the technology that helped accelerate and make decisions across that business generated untold billions in value for organizations around the world. But over the last decade, there has been a shift. There has been less emphasis on the strategic role of information technology and a greater focus on technology responsiveness. Less interest in business cases and capital expenditure than rapidly deployed apps and operational improvement. And there has been more of a demand to balance the back office needs with front-of-house expectations. Today’s CIO has a broad ambit – covering what I call “all things ‘I’”. Insights – CIOs have always been aware of the potential of big data, but the next generation of analytics platforms are turning our data warehouses into a ready storehouse of insights that can power everything from our marketing campaigns through to changes in our supply chains, partner networks and CSR programs. Interactive – As investments in digital marketing begin to outstrip more traditional forms of advertising, technology is no longer on the back end of the customer experience, but front and center. CIOs have an increasingly important role supporting front-of-house activities, feeding insights, data and...
From the Athena Doctrine to the Five Forces of Kibbutz Leadership

From the Athena Doctrine to the Five Forces of Kibbutz Leadership

In 2011, when the wall of water hit the Kinoya seafood factory in Ishinomaki, Japan, 800,000 cans of seafood were swept away. In the months and years that followed, as Japan worked to recover from the massive impact of the tsunami, a remarkable movement grew out of the devastation. Volunteers began collecting the cans. One-by-one the cans were cleaned of the sludge and debris that covered them, brought back to the factory and repackaged. About half of those recovered were saleable and were sent to stores around the country. The cans soon became known as cans of hope. However, there was a problem – the labels had been washed away. This meant that the contents were a surprise to the purchaser. Undeterred, the Japanese public began decorating the cans, leaving messages of hope and encouragement. The story of hope had taken a whole new direction. John Gerzema shares this story at the start of his TEDx talk as an illustration of a powerful leadership trend that I have observed for sometime. He calls it the “Athena Doctrine.” At the core of this is an approach to business and leadership that is breaking away from the traditional ways of working – leadership that is more collaborative, flexible and nurturing. Gerzema suggests that this style of leadership is more “feminine” than “masculine.” The Athena Doctrine was built on research carried out with over 60,000 participants in 13 countries. And one of the core findings was that 57% of adults are dissatisfied with the conduct of men. A fact with which 54% of men also agree. The most powerful aspect of this...
“Leader” is Not a Title, it’s a Journey

“Leader” is Not a Title, it’s a Journey

I’ve held many positions during my career. I have performed many roles. I have achieved outcomes, fulfilled targets and delivered on key performance indicators. But never once have I had “leader” on a business card. I was considering this situation as I read Gary Hamel and Polly LaBarre’s HBR article How to Lead When You’re Not in Charge. They say, “To gain a true leadership advantage, organizations must be filled with individuals who understand how to maximize their own ratio of ‘accomplishment over authority,’” and it resonated with me. It reminded me of the organizations that I have worked for – of the opportunities and challenges that were presented, and of the many teams and individuals that I have worked with. From the earliest points in my career, I was attracted to projects and colleagues who were leaders. I could see that some projects really were ground-breaking – would set a new agenda in the world of business – and I wanted to be part of that. And at the heart of these changes – these waves of disruption – were people who could glimpse some shapes in the future ahead of us and inspire the journey ahead. And I say “people” rather than “leaders” – for almost always, they became leaders during that journey. When I was called upon to lead SAP’s global education business, I saw it as an opportunity, but also as a challenge. It was a substantial business with a long history and a particular way of working. But times were changing, and this business too, had to change. I knew that this was going...
How Using Facebook Helps Leaders

How Using Facebook Helps Leaders

Whether we like it or not – and whether we are prepared or not – our businesses are becoming more networked and connected. Our colleagues and teams are no longer co-located but spread across locations, states and even countries. Welcome to the true, global virtual workforce. We can send email, use collaboration technologies and even video conference – but the technology has shifted significantly even in the last few years – and these now feel out-dated. Leaders can no longer rely on the technologies that have helped make many of us successful – we are increasingly turning to short and instant messaging for instant connection, activity streams for up-to-the-moment reports and big data for real time results and decision support. But leadership has never only been about technology. It is also – essentially – about people and performance. Where these new innovations have proven themselves has been in the area of performance. We are seeing gains in our competitive position, responsiveness to changing customer and stakeholder demands and in our ability to communicate, engage and motivate teams across the globe. However, leaders have, in general, been reticent to grapple with the human dimension of technology. And this is where social media comes into play. Taking a cue from leading management author, Gary Hamel, I have suggested previously that hackers are our future heroes, and that elements of hacker culture may help spur new forms of innovation and competitive advantage. But we should also be looking at some of the other transformations that are taking place. Hamel suggests that there are a whole series of behaviors that are fertile ground...