6 key takeaways from CanadianCIO’s second annual CIO Innovation Summit

You would think that by the end of a full day of presentations, panel discussions and fireside chats, you could take a bit of a breather, but one of the most challenging aspects of hosting a conference comes near the very end. It’s when, as host and facilitator, you try to synthesize everything you’ve heard into something the audience can walk away with.

The slide below was something I worked on throughout the day as I lead our CIO Innovation Summit, sponsored by Rogers, which took place earlier this week at the J.W. Marriott Rosseau in Muskoka, Ont. Our theme — ‘The Future of Work’ – explored the many ways IT leaders need to not only foster collaboration but boost the engagement of employees in order to make their organizations more successful.

Obviously these bullet points would be meaningless for those who weren’t able to join us, so allow me to explain:

What do we mean by ‘work’? — It may seem obvious, but as one of our CIO guests pointed out, it may be a mistake to paint “the future of work” with a broad brush, given the nuances of various industries and organizations. Even within health-care, “work” is very different if you’re involved in treating patients vs. developing medicines and so on. We agreed this kind of self-assessment is a good starting point for further strategy creation.

From right-time data to right-time work — For years now, experts have been advising that we need to think beyond merely offering “real-time data” of what’s going on in an organization (although that’s still a lofty goal for some businesses). Instead, “right-time data” is all about making sure an organization has the information needed to act at a specific time — say, when customer demand hits a peak during the holidays. Similarly, a CIO in our audience suggested we may need to evolve our thinking beyond allowing work to happen anywhere, anytime, but ensure the right tools and technology is ready for employees based on their context. For example, there should be a more seamless experience someone using a mobile enterprise app gets back to their desk.

Shadow IT — or agents of innovation? — Naturally, we had to talk about the fact that lines of business and users tend to do their own thing without asking the CIO or their staff. One of our guests, however, put a more positive spin on this, suggesting that shadow IT users should not be slapped on the wrist but approached for more information about their choices. They could then be repositioned as an “agent of innovation” and help CIOs champion new work initiatives.

Start with personas — User experience designers have known about this for years, but our audience was reminded that the future of work means recognizing the differences across demographics, departments and roles. Some thoughtful work on this area up front could save CIOs a lot of hassles later on.

ROI vs. right thing to do — CIOs are always thinking about the right metrics, but one of our guests wondered if the traditional methods might not apply in future-of-work scenarios. Many organizations have been moving to greater energy efficiency, he noted, but not aways because the benefits to the company are quantifiable. Maybe some future of work initiatives will simply align with the company’s values.

CIOs talking about culture? — One of our speakers said she was shocked to hear IT leaders focused on anything other than running data centres. Of course, those who come to our events and others know that culture comes up all the time, but maybe CIOs need to be more articulate when they go back to work to make sure their colleagues realize this is something top of mind.

This is just the beginning of our coverage of this year’s CIO Innovation Summit. I’ll be following up with more details about the kind of workshop activities that took place, video interviews and more.





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Shane Schick
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