Martha Lane-Fox called for us all, individuals, leaders, politicians to step up to the plate and enable the UK to truly benefit from the internet last week. As leaders, Martha Lane-Fox suggests that we suffer from a shortage of digital imagination in the boardrooms, with only four digital executives on FTSE 100 boards.
This brings us directly to our core aim for the profession and a message that I've been talking about for a number of years now; the CIO must lead, across teams, boundaries and organisations. So, we as the professional body for IT, are pleased to see this debate being aired and the issues it raises being openly discussed.
There is, as Martha Lane-Fox highlighted, a dawning realisation that there is no other way. For many years, now we've been saying that IT is at the heart of everything and therefore the IT profession is the profession of the future; it underpins everything we do. The internet of (every)thing is coming and will impact everyone.
What does this mean for you? Well, it means that every IT professional has the ability to shape our digital world, whether that's in the public or private sector. Organisations who don't understand the concept that IT is the transformative driver of their business are unlikely to be long lived. Disrupt yourself before it is too late.
A lot of what we've been talking about with the profession for many years is now becoming more urgent and more apparent to the wider world in which we sit, from politicians to families, business leaders to students. We have an enviable position in being able to drive and shape this change but already our inability to communicate with passion and enthusiasm undermines that position. Society wants to hear our ideas and understand their concerns with regards digital impact, and yet often when we gather together at another big data conference how often do we inspire? When you find an exception, nurture them because we need passionate and articulate leaders at all levels in the hierarchy to ensure our digital success.
All of this means that as a dynamic CIO or digital leader you are creating the world in which we live and your customers want. Not only do you need to be at the heart of the business; understanding what the business is trying to achieve and exploiting tech to achieve it, you also need to understand the wider impact of IT and the consequences of what you do. Technology is your servant to drive and achieve change.
Innovation, disruption, user centric approaches to IT are the key aspects of any organisational strategy. CIOs need to shift from implementing other people's strategy really well and instead have the vision and capability to set the strategy and be disruptive. This will involve risk and potential failure, as Phil Pavitt, Global CIO for Specsavers, recently outlined at an event we hosted: "CIOs need to have the courage to push ahead against the possibility of failure". This may be a challenging concept for some, but essential if you're going to drive change and reach a digital nirvana.
In order to create an impact in your organisation, you may well need to need to create a level of dissatisfaction with the current situation; make connections with the imaginative characters in the organisation; and change a risk-averse culture within an organisation in order to identify business opportunities and new ways of generating income.
Matha Lane-Fox called for a national institution in order to truly support our digital world. Do we need a publicly funded body? The solution feels slightly out of sync with the topic. As a professional body, we play in this space; we are not publicly funded, we don't want to impact the public purse but we do very much want to impact the public benefit from IT.