Technology drives our modern world. We use it to communicate, order groceries and even to give our pets treats from hundreds of miles away. It seems like every day, a new phone app or gadget is made available to make our lives easier. The same is true of business technology.

Businesses have to keep up with today’s emerging technology in order to compete. However, it’s not just new tech that drives a company’s competitive advantages, it is also diversity. The modern marketplace is bustling with business applications. So in order to achieve groundbreaking work, CIOs need to develop a culture that fosters innovation and critical thinking. A culture must exist that allows team members to hold themselves accountable, push the needle and drive improvements across all verticals of the business.

“95% of business leaders see innovation as being vital to staying competitive and keeping a business viable.”

What is the Role of the Modern CIO?

 Due to their visibility across multiple business units, Chief Information Officers are uniquely positioned to determine and influence innovation in the company. The CIOs that are thriving have evolved into digital transformation gurus. They are relentless at simplifying their IT infrastructure and building services that increase return on investment.

“Organizational leaders tend to overestimate financial rewards and underestimate the power that “purpose” has on someone’s motivation to innovate.”

A Culture of Equality

 In order to take your team and your organization to the next level, CIOs must strive to develop a culture that is based on equality. Accenture recently found that this kind of culture also contributes to a culture where employees are willing and even driven to innovate. What is meant by equality in this context?

Equality can mean a variety of things to a variety of people. In this case, we are talking about valuing employees and making sure that they, in return, feel valued. If people feel that they are valued by their unique contributions, it is an incentive to work harder and discover solutions that are more innovative and helpful to the organization. They know that their work is being noticed, which plays a large role in their work ethic.

95% of business leaders see innovation as being vital to staying competitive and keeping a business viable. However, based on the study, employers and employees differ on whether that is a priority for their organization. 76% of leaders say they regularly empower employees to be innovative, while only 42% of employees agree. The study goes on to identify that organizational leaders tend to overestimate financial rewards and underestimate the power that “purpose” has on someone’s motivation to innovate.

How Can CIO’s Empower Their Teams?

  • Communicate Purpose– Your organization has a purpose in the marketplace. Communicate exactly what that purpose is and how each employee can support that purpose.
  • Encourage Inclusion– Each person has their own unique experiences, interests and skills. Embrace their differences.  You also want to encourage collaboration to increase diversity of thought as well as encouraging experimentation with new technology, new ideas and embracing a fail fast mindset.
  • Training, Training, Training– Your workforce needs to be able to pivot quickly. Setting up engaging and flexible training programs are key to staying up with emerging technologies and skill sets required to compete.
  • Flexible Working Environment– Depending on the person, optimal productivity can look very different. The key is finding out how each of your employees can maximize their productivity and provide options that fit with their work habits and their lifestyle. Virtual work environments and communication technology can allow your team to work when they want and how they want, offering more work-life balance.
  • Communicate Business Value– Your IT staff should be able to communicate proposed technology solutions across business units. Being able to talk about the business value their proposed solution brings elevates them and increases awareness of innovative solutions for their unique business challenges. The feeling that their ideas are heard across the organization and up the chain can be a great motivating factor.

Commit to Innovation

Developing a culture of equality is not difficult, but it does take commitment. Workers that feel that their input is just as critical to success as the CEO’s input are more likely to buy into your culture, strive to innovate and commit to your organization. The onus is on leadership to set the tone.

Next Horizon provides holistic technology solutions for businesses looking to improve sales, increase agility and optimize their productivity. From deploying dedicated development teams to building bespoke business applications, Next Horizon uses its 40+ years of experience and award-winning talent to solve business problems for its clients.

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