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Team management: The new priority for today’s CIO

For today’s CIO, team management is just as important a factor to success as implementing the right technology. With data infrastructure pushing past the data center and even the cloud to the IoT edge, however, striking the right balance between internal and external teams is now a particularly thorny challenge.

This represents a significant change for the CIO, a job that has traditionally centered on making sure that systems and platforms are in good working order. With the rise of cloud computing, SaaS, and advanced automation, much of the actual data infrastructure is either overseen by someone else or is now so easy to manage that users are spinning up their own resources with a few clicks of a mouse.

Coordination is Key

The CIO’s world, then, is moving toward higher-level strategic planning and policy development, as well as coordinating the activities of IT staff, contractors, supply chains, and processes. This shift also translates into a new set of metrics on which CIO performance is evaluated. It is no longer enough to simply make sure downtime is kept to a minimum and recoveries are quick. Instead, leadership qualities like the ability to motivate the workforce and drive the changes that result in improved performance and lower costs are seen as top priorities.

For many CIOs, this is a tough transition to make. A key problem is the tendency to apply the same management solutions on both internal and external employees. InfoWorld’s Isaac Sacolick notes that the most common pitfalls are to channel solutions around the internal team’s skills and technologies or to outsource more of the management burden to external partners and then expect them to oversee the implementation process. And in some cases, IT is removed from the equation altogether and has to suffer under whatever collection of people and resources that their business leaders see appropriate.

None of these solutions are optimal, however. Instead, the CIO should partner with business leaders to ensure that the resulting management regime features a mix of resources, partners, existing platforms, and new technologies to ensure innovative solutions are delivered faster and at the highest quality. This is not just about procurement or running due-diligence on a particular vendor, of course, but an exploration into how a digitally savvy enterprise can embrace the future.

A Collaborative Effort

Modern collaboration tools and techniques are proving to be essential in this new environment. Not only do they provide a convenient means of communication and information-sharing among disparate stakeholders of a given process, but they provide tracking tools to establish who is responsible for what, as well as performance evaluators, feedback loops, and ways to measure results for post-project analysis.

In this way, the CIO gains a convenient way to build strong relationships among internal and external teams, not to mention users and clientele. In addition, it provides deep-dive analytics to streamline processes, improve product development workflows, and otherwise ensure that the business environment itself is on a trajectory of steadily improving results. At the same time, collaboration provides a way to funnel quality information to business leaders as they approach key decision points.

For CIOs, then, the way forward is clear: yes, technology will remain a key element of the job, but relationship-building, team guidance, and other soft skills will increasingly consume more time and attention as the digital economy unfolds and data infrastructure expands beyond what is directly controlled by the enterprise.

With so much leeway being given to knowledge workers to compile their own resources and complete tasks in their own ways, it will be up to the CIO to make sure that everyone is on the same page and working toward the same goal.

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