CIOs must broaden their skillset

Gartner says that to keep up with modern IT, CIOs must also evolve

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CIOs must broaden their skillset Mary Mesaglio from Gartner says that modern CIOs need to have the ability to do A-B testing, rapid prototyping and high velocity, low cost experimentation.
By  Georgina Enzer Published  March 27, 2013

CIOs are having to increase their skillset as the role of the CIO becomes wider and more complex in the modern IT setting, according to Mary Mesaglio, research vice president with Gartner's CIO & Executive Leadership research team.

There are some CIOs that are fusing together the role of the CIO and the role of the chief digital officer, and are creating rapid innovation teams.

"These are separate teams that don't get along that well with the IT operations guys, but are there to answer that digital opportunity. We did a case study on the Guardian News & Media and they had a technology development director or what we would call a CDO. This is print publishing and they were remodeling their business digitally and he had a team of people who were actively sitting in the editorial conferences and saying ‘We can turn that into a crowd sourcing app, for that story we can do an infographic', just real time contribution of the digital innovation that could be brought to bear and that kind of connection/collaboration is quite rare,"  Mesaglio told Network Middle East. "I think some CIOs will win, some will lose in this, and some are frankly not that interested in development."

According to Mesaglio, the first skill needed by the modern CIO is the ability to allow and encourage rapid prototyping.

"If you are a business user, you come to me with an idea as the CEO or head of application development and have an emergent concept such as ‘I want to digitise a business process/workflow', you as the CIO should be able to do rapid prototyping and have something back in 48 hours," said Mesaglio.

The second skill is to have the capacity to do A-B testing, Google does a lot of this, but it has always been really hard to do this in the physical world. Mesaglio gives the example of if you are the head of Burberry and you say ‘I want to create a shop on 5th Ave', you cant really do A-B testing, as you are not going to do shop A and then buy B three blocks down and see what customers like more.

But in the digital world, CIOs and IT leaders are not doing enough A-B testing according to Mesaglio. The actual extra cost of doing a digital version and testing is actually not that great.

 "If you are trying to improve the user experience you can do version A,B and C and, you can, through IP address management, see which people like best and there is a direct feedback that most IT departments are not taking best advantage of," she said

The third skill is a high velocity low cost experimentation, because if the action is happening where the enterprise meets the outside world at the interface then there is a whole bunch of information that the enterprise does not know about how customers are going to react in the digital sphere.

"High velocity low cost experimentation says what I would be asking a CIO is ‘Could your team design an experiment for Monday, Launch on Tuesday, get the data on Wednesday, tweak it on Thursday and relaunch on Friday. If you can't do that kind of speed then that would be the goal to work up to. The biggest thing that IT needs to get more of is speed," said Mesaglio.

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