CEO Leadership

CIO: Help Your CEO Cut Through The Noise So That You Can Right Your Focus

Lists of priorities are merely voices competing for attention. Your CEO won't invest unless you show the real need behind four critical areas in 2024 that need buy-in.

Scott Smeester

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January 11, 2024

I’m not easily distracted, but our technology world is full of voices calling for our attention.

I am often demanded of, and I have to constantly weigh my yes and no.

Distractions and demands. They can keep us from what matters.

And not just us - our CEOs are bombarded with technology noise, and they are unsure what they should give merit to or not. And that matters a great deal to us.

I recently experienced this. The first of the year is filled with typical articles about IT priorities. One list had thirteen, another ten, and so forth. They were good articles and interesting lists with one problem. They didn’t often address the real reason we should act on them.

Which is a standard concern among CEOs - When presented with an issue, they are wise to ask, “But why?”

Why This And Not That

2024 requires our focus on four areas because they operate within four unrelenting realities. Look with me at the four focal points, and then consider the realities behind them.

AI

Generative AI, particularly, entered last year like a child pedaling fast on a tricycle and ended the year like a teen roaring on a motorcycle.

Its maturity, and our parenting of it, is a critical 2024 investment. Picture your family all on the motorcycle and hanging on as AI drives and you get the picture of what this means to your company.

Your company is on the journey. Last year it felt like an addition to the family. Today it is an essential integration.

Your employees need to understand its benefits; they also need to understand its safe usage.And overall, your CEO and stakeholders need to climb on board after seeing the cases that establish the proper narrative: our competitive leverage and business acceleration depends on AI.

Data

You live in unknowns: Where does the data live? Who touches it? Where are the gaps and the breaks?

You know the need: Clean it. Secure it. Make it meaningful. Make it rapidly accessible.

You will implement data management and data governance because both are essential in working with your CEO toward long-term business strategies dependent on right and relevant information.

Security

This is a no-brainer. Yet, we are one mistake away from mind-blowing consequences.

And that mistake is rarely because you didn’t have the right policies, team or security leader in place. If your CEO sees security as a box to check, it’s like posting border patrol and believing your country is safe from bad actors.

Cost Leadership

You are a financial leader. You are not a cost manager. You know the difference. One works with what they are told to work with. The other, the leader, understands how to accomplish more with less and to multiply less into more.

You know to consolidate software, move workloads to the cloud, spend small to test outcomes, modernize your technology stack, reduce and eliminate legacy, and ensure efficiency that leads to better returns.

You have the opportunity to be proactive on financial investments and not just reactive to budget cuts.

These are the top four. It’s not that other areas are unimportant, it’s that your CEO understands that these must stand above all other distractions and demands.

Why - which is the what that your CEO must know

Because when it comes to Security, you are in a war.

Because when it comes to AI, it is only growing and never going away.

Because when it comes to Data, it naturally becomes unwieldy.

Because when it comes to Cost, it is always fluctuating and subject to conditions.

These four share a common thread: daily. Every single morning, the unaddressed becomes more significant, the unmanaged becomes more overwhelming, the misprioritized becomes more critical.

Ignored, or not properly attended to, and each of these get out of your control, either directly (cyber attacks, data confusion, monetary misses) or indirectly (AI leverage by your competitors).

Your CEO hears a lot of noise. What they don’t need is more distraction or unnecessary demands. They are very sensitive to the irrelevant, very quick to judge what drains.

It’s not enough for you to talk about IT priorities and their benefits. Your peers are pushing benefits in front of your CEO and stakeholders every day.

What they don’t do every day is point out what is happening every day that spells either disaster or success depending on whether you and your CEO invests well: in security, AI, data and costs.

Forget the lists. Focus on the four that drive all else, that you drive to your vision…or they drive you off a cliff.

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