As I reflect back on my career during the past 13 years, the technology space has changed dramatically, especially in healthcare. CIOs barely existed in the 1990’s and early 2000. Remember when the head of technology ran a department called “data processing?” This department consisted of data entry clerks and technologists that were in charge of managing mainframes. The biggest project was Y2K where we thought computer systems were going to shut down the world; now we are working on automating medicine with the use of robots.
We are evolving to a world where technology is a commodity, and the only way for CIOs or technology executives to survive is to understand the business world and the digital world. We are in an era where we can create servers in minutes, information can be analyzed anywhere, anytime, customers have “multiple” mobile devices, and the social scene has exploded where communication between businesses and consumers occur on a regular basis. Managing change is not easy, but we must adapt and overcome a few obstacles in order to be successful. Below are my views on the necessary steps to be a next generation CIO.
- Sit at the table. It is crucial for the CIO to have a seat at the table with the business. We must understand the business strategy and be a main driving component. CIOs are in a position where we are involved with every department transaction so we are in the frontline of the business. It is our job to bring value utilizing technology.
- Understand the 4 Pillars: Social, Cloud, Mobile, Big Data. There is where the industry is headed. Stop babysitting technology and mainframes and let the experts manage the infrastructure. I go in details on the 4 pillars here.
- Digital Communication. Education needs to occur with the CXO on the digital landscape. Are you still providing traditional PowerPoints for presentations? It may be time to wow the board with a video presentation or infographics. We should also educate the CXOs on the digital landscape of customer service using social media. It will be a good way to build trust with the customers.
The New “I” in CIO
Next should be a self-assessment on the type of CIO you are. I view the next generation CIOs as:
- Chief “Innovation” Officer — We must innovate new ideas utilizing the latest technology to bring efficiency and return for the organization. The innovation factor may or may not be 100 percent a technology solution, but I am sure technology is involved in some way. We need to come up with new ways of solving problems and disrupting the healthcare technology landscape. Population health and accountable care is at the forefront of every organization’s agenda. My theory is that we can learn a lot about population and behavior using social media like other industries. Social media can be the platform we use to manage health behavior and provide customer education.
- Chief “Influence” Officer — Our main role is to influence the organization and provide the best technological solution available to solve a problem. We need to get more involved with the marketing aspect of the business to sell our ideas and solutions. CIOs must start to think like a CEO of the department and work to ensure that our solutions are recognized highly within the organization.
If we do not define the new “I” and instead revert back to being a Chief “Information” Officer or Chief “Infrastructure” Officer (CTO), I am afraid that we will lose our edge, which is why we are seeing the rise of a Chief Digital Officer. CIOs are poised to take on the digital role, and if we do not make the effort to educate ourselves and keep up, we will be the real CIO (Career Is Over).