Bright idea © Conor Brien
Bright idea © Conor Brien

The CIO’s skill set is adapting to technology with the role becoming more strategic and creative.

Almost three out of four executives are expecting their CIOs to come up with innovative ways to use technology as a way to transform the business, according to the 2016 BT Report.

CIO UK looks at how the creative CIO is increasing in the boardroom, implementing change in the workforce. (See also: How to find and implement emerging technology as a new CIO)

How a CIO can become more creative: Digital trends

A recent survey revealed 45% of CIOs expect creativity to be a skill to drive innovation.

Big Data, blockchain and virtual reality are technologies organisations are currently developing in 2016. A lack of skills and expertise in the new technologies has seen 39% of CIOs struggling to embrace the change.

Digital skills shortages have been cited by a number of CIOs as a challenge for their organisations, and Graham Benson at sees his CIO role in contributing creative ideas to the business which can deliver change.

“I am a facilitator; but also try to make the team’s initiatives and hypothesise a smarter technical solution,” he said. “Year one has really been focused on the foundations (best people, best processes, get the delivery machine optimised so project can be fed into it) in order to deliver some creative and innovative products over the next 12 months.” has undertaken a creative digital strategy led by Benson which can help push ideas with his IT leadership team.

“I am at the heart of the digital business strategy, as the team spend days per quarter and one day per month on creative innovation and business strategy… it can help drive us for change.”

How a CIO can become more creative: Changing priorities

CIOs are continuing to be more central in the boardroom influencing change on the business strategy.

The shifting priorities has seen 36% of CIOs are now spending less time on developing creative solutions for the business, according to the 2016 Harvey Nash research.

A CIOs engagement in their job role will lead to how they can creatively implement digital technologies into the workforce.

Executives should keep their CIO engaged by increasing their creativity skills through hackathons, staff training in innovation techniques and work presentations when contributing future ideas.

A creative CIO’s goal is to deliver a more agile infrastructure in keeping the customers engaged and by taking risks in innovative solutions.

How a CIO can become more creative: Creative leadership and communication

A CIO can add value to their organisation through collaborating with community groups, other departments and fellow executives which can increase their creativity skills.

N Brown Group CIO and CIO 100 member Andy Haywood says his “secret” to being a successful, creative CIO is to bring a fun approach by communicating regularly with his team to deliver business innovation.

“My IT communications team isn’t there to be a propaganda machine: they tell it like is,” he said. “We acknowledge when something has gone well and when something hasn’t.”

N Brown Plc is currently delivering a business transformation programme, led by CIO Haywood, which will see the retail group transition to an online platform over two years.

“We listen to feedback and the executives provide valuable radar to me about how IT is seen across the business… with colleagues feeling listened to and those feeling they can trust the information and updates that are being provided to by me and my team.”

CIOs should add creativity to their skills set being seen as a positive development in the business strategy. It is a great opportunity for CIOs to embrace the change of shifting priorities from ‘keeping the lights on’ to being a creative leader in adding value to the organisation.