CIO leadership fundamentals part 3: Building core capabilities

One of the most important objectives for any CIO is to build core based capabilities for their own organization to properly drive value both for today and for the future. Previously in my CIO leadership fundamentals blog series I addressed the topics of strategy and relationships. In this third blog in the series, a high level approach is outlined on how best to go about building core capabilities, from a practitioner’s perspective.

This model is based on the assumption that regardless of whether IT work to drive and support digital transformation is performed internally or by third party resources, there are 12 core capabilities that any IT organization needs to have in place and be good at. These core capabilities have been grouped under three broad categories:

1. Business Enablement – the goal is to make the business more effective. Responsible for development of new apps and driving solutions for the business. The core capabilities include:

  • Strategy and Innovation
  • Business Alignment and Relationship Management
  • Solution Delivery and Support
  • Business Intelligence
  • Business Process Alignment and Support

2. IT Utility – the goal is to make the business more efficient. Responsible for developing and managing the technical infrastructure and supplying technical services. Here it’s important to develop:

  • Service Management
  • IT infrastructure

3. IT Business Operations – here the goal is to make the IT organization more effective and efficient.  Responsibilities include managing the skills, capabilities and resources required to successfully operate the IT organization. As such, the core capabilities include:

  • Planning and Program/Project Management
  • Supplier Relationship Management
  • IT Architecture
  • Business Performance Management (the finances)
  • IT Competencies and Culture

CIOs can use this model to look at their organization and that of the extended third party team to assess where things are currently at in each of the 12 core capabilities and then to determine where things need to be improved to achieve the desired strategic end state and corresponding business results.  This assessment includes taking a critical eye review as to whether the work should be done internally or whether it’s best to let others do it for you, including leveraging the full opportunities as available through the cloud and all that it implies.

So whether CIOs use this model or another one, the important thing is to actually have a formal approach and the related discipline to actually focus on building core capabilities in a thoughtful and structured way to achieve full potential performance of digital technologies.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
Gary Davenport
Gary Davenport
Gary is the President of the CIO Association of Canada (CIOCAN) which represents approximately 300 CIOs across Canada by growing IT leaders, speaking with one voice on issues facing CIOs and building a vendor-neutral community for the safe exchange of ideas and best practices.

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