How do you get to the top spot in technology? And how do you stay there? Freeman Clarke’s ‘The Curious CIO’ brings you the stories of technology leaders, how they made it to the Boardroom, and what they learned along the way. Featuring CIO James Alcock and CEO (and former CIO) Steve Clarke, ‘The Curious CIO’ is a conversation about leadership, business, and technology.
For over 20 years, James Alcock has helped CEOs and business leaders ensure long-term success with sound technology strategies. He focuses on harnessing digital innovations to reduce risk, increase competitive advantage, and add value. Steve Clarke is an IT and technology expert with a deep interest in leadership and career development for CIOs. He is co-founder and director of Freeman Clarke, the UK’s largest and most experienced team of fractional CIOs, CTOs, and IT Directors.
Freeman Clarke provide fractional, Board-level IT leadership for mid-market businesses. Our technology leaders become part of the senior team to drive growth with technology—at a fraction of the cost.
E1: Sajjad Ahmed: From a Pakistani wheatfield to CIO (and back) The podcast kicks off with Sajjad Ahmed, CIO at International SOS, who started thinking about leadership as a 9-year-old in Pakistan. Ahmed explains his journey from Pakistan to a London boardroom, his motivations and leadership style, and how he keeps a CEO engaged in the technology function.
Top 8 challenges for IT leaders in 2021
At the beginning of 2021, CIO.co.uk outlined what they believed would be this year’s top eight challenges for IT leaders:
Facilitating the future of work
Securing the hybrid enterprise
Flipping the 80/20 IT landscape
Skilling up for accelerated digital roadmaps
Scrutinising IT budgets
Maintaining 24/7 uptime
Blending safety and innovation
Well, okay, I get all these. But is this as good as it gets? Couldn’t we aim a bit higher?
For example, we shouldn’t be ‘facilitating the future of work,’ we should be driving it! As for 24/7 uptime, surely we’ve all got that in place already? Particularly now, when technology has enabled businesses to carry on despite the pandemic?
I think we can easily come up with a more inspirational and impactful list—especially when we’re looking for talking points to bring to the CEO.
In this accelerated moment, CEO attentions are more than usually divided. But part of your job as a CIO is to make a case to the CEO for how technology makes a difference to competitive advantage. Technology can and should be the key to more rapid growth, to outstripping the competition, and to becoming more profitable.
And yet the above list would have us focus on infrastructure. If we were in a car, it’s as if the next five sets of traffic lights have all turned green, and yet we’re driving along in second gear: admiring the scenery when we should be hitting the gas.
So, what do I think we should be doing now? We need to focus on getting the CEO excited about their IT. And we need to demonstrate, as CIOs, that we’re commercially astute businesspeople and not propeller heads. We need to show that we’re thinking about how to help the company grow faster and make more money.
So, what about this list instead:
1. Omnichannel everywhere. Everyone engages with the business however they wish, whether they’re suppliers, customers, or employees.
2. Bring the customers closer. Digitisation of everything—now!
3. Integrate and automate to speed up the business; RPA, APIs and Middleware to deliver a connected business.
4. Real BI/MI to make delivering data the lifeblood of the business and enable fantastic decision-making.
5. Give the business what it wants. Departments should want to come to you first.
6. Support innovation. Create sandboxes where employees can safely innovate.
7. Programmes and projects delivered on time, within budget, and to specification. Always.
8. Right person in the right seat on the right bus. Wrong people off the bus.
Consider this list less about challenges than priorities. After all, if there is anything that past eighteen months has taught us, it’s that challenges have a way of finding you whether you plan for them or not.
The power of technology: online service delivery
We’ve seen so many changes in online service delivery. What does it all mean to a mid-market business? Our IT and technology experts discuss the pressing topics in online service delivery, such as the big shift to ecommerce, adding value post-purchase, better integration with vendors to save time and money, and meeting the needs of demanding corporate clients.
Freeman Clarke is the UK’s largest and most experienced team of fractional IT leaders. We work exclusively with ambitious organisations, helping our clients use IT to beat the competition. Contact us and we’ll be in touch for an informal conversation.
Online Service Delivery: Don’t forget job satisfaction
Your systems strategy should focus on what the clients want. But staff must be a consideration as well. Our IT and technology experts discuss how systems strategy can be a crucial factory in the attraction and retention of staff.
New tools have made it much easier and cheaper to deliver information, offers, and new services to customers after they buy. Our IT and technology experts discuss new ways to add value after the purchase is done.
Online service delivery: E-commerce in the mid-market
We’ve seen a huge increase in Freeman Clarke B2B clients moving into the ecommerce space. Whilst many mid-market businesses have resisted the shift, it’s been a boon for our clients. Our IT and technology experts provide their thoughts on this ecommerce in the mid-market.
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