Here’s how the CIO can thrive moving forward.

We read an article recently, which you can read by clicking here, that really caught our attention. It calls into question the relevance of the CIO (Chief Information Officer) and IT departments as a whole, citing this stat:


“almost two-thirds (64%) of organizations now allow technology to be managed outside the IT department.”

Part of this evolution was brought on by a surge in cloud-based SaaS (software as a service) products, which are often supported by the provider and don’t require IT support from an internal IT department.

Moreover, while this has seemingly displaced IT professionals, it’s also opened the door to a new way for them to be a helpful resource.

Internal non-IT teams are implementing technologies at staggering rates, which creates three key problems for companies, which CIOs are equipped to help solve:

  1. Individual teams are not always implementing software correctly or efficiently, which can create wasteful spending, unnecessary headaches, and unachieved goals.
  2. The teams are further isolating themselves from the rest of their company, as they have multiple software products doing the same thing, and information is not shared freely across different teams.
  3. Companies as a whole are losing out on the larger opportunity because they’re treating technology as a way to automate tasks, instead of evaluating how it could enhance their business altogether.

How can CIOs evolve their roles to not only stay relevant but thrive moving forward? Here are three contributions they can start making today.

Be the hero to individual teams by showing them what’s possible.

CIOs have historically held more of a reactionary role. Teams need technology to enable them to do something more efficiently, so the IT team went to work.

Today, however, CIOs need to be leading change by enabling companies, and their teams, to implement the right technology in the right way so that they can capitalize on improved business outcomes.

Though teams are implementing technology on their own, it doesn’t mean it’s the most viable option. There are so many different tools and software available to us, it’s hard to know where to start, and it’s even harder to effectively determine what your team needs.

Furthermore, off-the-shelf SaaS products have great potential, but many teams don’t realize that they still must be configured to best suit them. This helps to ensure user adoption is high, and the perceived value can be recognized by everyone. All too often we see teams purchase a new tool, plug it in, and just pay the monthly bill without getting much use out of it.

Make your day-to-day more manageable with effective integrations.

Sometimes, neighboring teams are using something their peers could utilize as well. However, if there isn’t a single person or group focused on connecting all technology, it’s hard for teams to share such knowledge.

Enter, CIO 2.0. Most teams don’t want to take it upon themselves to research the right software and figure out how to implement it. So, if a new tool comes across their radar, they may jump at it, not realizing that a similar resource is already implemented internally at their company.

Companies quickly amass multiple tools that aren’t talking with one another. This creates a lot of unnecessary work arounds, and manual tasks that could otherwise be better handled were the tools integrated with one another. More so, it prevents the company from having a 360-degree view of its clients, thus limiting the ability to better service each client.

The most effective CIOs can take it upon themselves to understand the needs of all of the teams, how they work together, and ultimately determine which tools will allow them to collaborate as a single entity most effectively.

Get leadership buy-in by presenting solutions that enable your company to lead its niche.

Technology should push teams beyond just task automation. The leading CIOs demonstrate how technology can fundamentally change their businesses today, for the better.

To an extent, it’s a necessity for businesses to integrate the right technology more seamlessly with their business, because:

“44% of organizations expect to change their business model in a fundamental way in the next three years.”


Tom Goodwin, EVP of Innovation at Zenith, poses the question: What would your company look like if you built it today?

His point is that technology has enabled us to work in new ways, more efficiently. For businesses that don’t adapt fast enough, they’re likely to be disrupted by early adopters who leverage technology to accomplish more in a shorter amount of time, all the while serving their customers in improved ways.

What’s the bottom line?

For many companies, IT is seen as a tertiary requirement. However, the technology they work with is quickly disrupting decades-old businesses seemingly overnight. Key business leaders and decision makers need include their CIO in more conversations at the business level, or they risk being disrupted by a competitor.

The CIO of the future will need to be more collaborative on the business side than ever before. They will need this visibility to ensure their technology is configured around their business and helping to push it forward, rather than hold it back.

We read an article recently, which you can read by How the CIO lost control: Why cloud computing and millennials have got tech bosses running scared, that really caught our attention. It calls into question the relevance of the CIO (Chief Information Officer) and IT departments as a whole, citing this stat:

  • Value Opportunity #1: Put your data to work today.

To expedite the initial implementation process, we like to start with what you have: data.

Your business is continuously collecting data, but many companies are not able to use it and gain value from it because

  1. the data hasn’t been customized for their specific team needs, and
  2. the data isn’t easily accessible in one location.

When set-up correctly, Salesforce helps organize and provide you the ability to see all your important data points in one location, so that your business can make smarter, data-based decisions.

When it comes to data, different groups within an organization need to know different information. It doesn’t help anyone if everyone has the same generic dashboard.

Within Salesforce, executives, department heads, and sales leaders can determine what information they need to see, and perhaps more importantly, what information they do not need to see on a regular basis. Each group can customize their own dashboards and reports based on their specific needs.

Real-time dashboards allow you to view the most important daily data points to make decisions quickly, without delay. Reports allow you to then identify trends over time. Additionally, anomaly triggers identify potential issues before they become a problem.

Potential threats that shine the light on potential problems, as well as key factors that have led to success, can be highlighted in reports and dashboards. This allows teams to focus on what matters most to them, and not be distracted by information that matters to another department.

Once organized, it’s important that everyone can both 1. easily access the information that’s important to them, and 2. Understand, through analytics, how to turn this data into useful information.

“Most problems don’t require more data. They require more insight, more innovation, and better eyes.”
– Seth Godin

This is where the right Salesforce partner comes in. Their role is not simply technical implementation. The partner you need is one that helps you identify how to structure your current data, eliminate bad data, and ensure Salesforce is configured in a way that your team understands and finds useful.

The best partners don’t simply turn Salesforce on for you. The best partners help you understand how to best use the tool to reach your goals, then make sure you’re experiencing the value each and every day.

  • Value Opportunity #2: Build a roadmap to stay on schedule.

Are you trying to do too much at once, and feeling bogged down? Before taking any steps toward implementation, it’s important to create a roadmap of your priorities to ensure a systematic approach.

You’ve read the articles and probably watched a few videos about the various Salesforce products available to you.

You’re thinking, “wow if we start using all of these new products, we could solve our problems in an instant.”

However, our experience suggests just the opposite to be true. Many of the tools and capabilities build upon one another, as with the common analogy: crawl before you walk, before you run, before you ride a bike, and so on.

But starting out with too much on your plate can overwhelm the team configuring the platform, as well as the users of the platform.

Think of your initial implementation of Salesforce as a roadmap, not a set of blueprints. Be ready to adapt and make changes when necessary.

  1. Start small;
  2. customize Salesforce to your business processes; then
  3. get your employees using and having success with the platform.

Once you have some momentum, it becomes a lot easier to add additional Salesforce products, services, and features to build upon these small wins. Bottom line: it’s easy to become enamored with all the features. Resist the urge to solve problems you don’t have.

  • Value Opportunity #3: Show everyone how Salesforce benefits them.

Do all stakeholders see the value of Salesforce for themselves? Many user adoption issues arise when one group thrusts Salesforce upon another without first clarifying how it helps the other group.

Leadership: Team leaders often fall in love with the idea of real-time dashboards, instant reporting, and process automation. And for good reason – these are fantastic capabilities to have at your disposal.

What’s important to recognize, though, is that leadership’s visibility depends on the rest of their team engaging with the platform.

The perspective that isn’t always presented is how Salesforce is actually a great benefit to the team members themselves, providing better record keeping, the elimination of mundane admin work, and removing the constant time spent generating reports for leadership.

Sales: Sales teams tend to balk at having to enter their data into a system that everyone can see. They’re wondering why, after all these years of success with their own system of spreadsheets, address books, and their memory, must they give up their contacts with no additional benefit to them.

Their initial fear is that Salesforce is going to distract them from doing what they do best: selling. The reality is that Salesforce allows them to cut out all kinds of other distractions they currently have.

Centralized customer information means sales reps don’t have to spend time educating other teams about next steps that involve more colleagues.

Instant reporting means sales reps don’t have to interrupt their day to generate status reports for company leadership.

Real-time dashboards mean sales reps can more readily see which campaigns and activities are working best, and which aren’t.

Automation means your sales reps can spend less time remembering simple tasks, or triggering more personalized responses to customers at scale.

All this adds up to more time spent actually selling. Customers get what they want faster than before, requiring less time and resources from your team, which allows your whole company to scale faster than before.

IT: Your tech team is going to help maintain and build upon your Salesforce progress. Everyone’s life becomes simpler when IT is kept in-the-know when new Salesforce applications and features are added to the platform. They can ensure that all current systems are properly synced with Salesforce so that information can flow across platforms.

Ultimately, IT will be able to more easily and quickly address any key issues with functionality if they understand how teams are using the platform and what they want to get out of it.