PART 1: BASIC INSIGHTS
In the era of Digitalization many businesses become increasingly shaped by (if not even depending on) Information and Communication Technology including data-driven services and platforms.
In course of this development, business managers must significantly expand their understanding and skills in dealing with the potentials and limitations of information and communication technology as well as data and platform economy in a systematic and targeted way, because the intelligent use of technology and data becomes an integral part of the business or even a critical success factor for the company.
In addition, the increased use of outsourcing services since around 2000 and the triumphant advance of cloud-based as-service delivery models since around 2010 have led to a reduction in the depth of value added for which the Chief Information Officer (CIO) is directly responsible.
These developments have a strong influence on the future positioning and responsibility of the CIO function:
- At first, business managers expand their scope into areas, which were so far covered by the CIO (e.g. IT applications supporting processes);
- At second, the CIO is expected to proactively and adequately support the company’s transformation to digital business models, data and platform economy including the implementation of a digital customer journey, digital education or digital culture (which often goes beyond his hitherto scope);
- At third, the provision of IT services (in the sense of Service Delivery) is increasingly carried out by external partners, so that the CIO’s focus is reduced to Governance and Service Management.
- At fourth, new C-level functions are created whose responsibilities cannot be precisely distinguished from those of a CIO, such as Chief Digitalization Officer, Chief Data Officer or Chief Process Officer.
Here is an overview comprising 42 different C-level functions which exist in practice (and I am sure this list is not even complete, you could add for example the „Chief Change Officer“ or the „Chief Transformation Officer“):
A wise friend once asked me: „How many managing directors should a company have?“ I responded: „I don’t know“. He said: „You should always set up an odd number – and 3 is too many.“ <irony off>
However, this is what happens every day in large corporations: Your Chief Information Officer competes with your Chief Digitalization Officer, your Chief Data Officer, your Chief Process Officer and your Chief Information Security Officer on responsibilities, headcount and budget e.g. for data-driven business models. Does this sound productive? I guess, rather no. To many cooks ruin the porridge, which is one of the reasons why you should clean out and simplify your organizational model from time to time.
When CIOs are unable to adapt their capabilities and radius of action to the rapidly evolving challenges of digitalization and cloud-based delivery concepts, the raison d’être for the CIO function gradually becomes very limited. The sneering translation of the abbreviation CIO as „Career is over“ could thus become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The company management has an important role to play in this: every Executive Board has the CIO it deserves. If IT cost is the only Key Performance Indicator (KPI) in which the Executive Board members are interested in, they should not be surprised if their CIOs focus primarily on cost management and push value added contributions for the business into the background.
The following overlapping and mutually reinforcing developments, whose starting points were the shareholder value dogma (Jack Welch) and the deregulation of the financial markets from the 1980s onwards, have had a strong influence on information and telecommunications technology in companies:
- Financial Capitalism
- Unlimited growth
- Surveillance capitalism
This leads to changes and challenges for the CIO, which are summarized in the following chart:
It is almost superfluous to mention that the aforementioned changes have a considerable influence on the qualifications of a modern CIO.
By the way, the chart above is based on the following understanding of the terms „Digitization“, „Digitalization“ and „Digital Transformation“:
To enable and foster innovation/disruption, IT managers and engineers working in traditional (linear) business models should develop their way of thinking and leverage fundamental paradigm shifts (see following chart).
Before I come to the announced „ultimate reading list for CxOs“, I would like to outline some essential elements of effective and efficient IT management.
„A fool with a tool remains a fool“ and „If you only have a hammer as a tool, then every problem becomes a nail“ – these are undoubtedly important and correct findings, which apply to the conventional IT management as well as for Digitalization challenges.
Nevertheless, to effectively and efficiently manage large CIO functions in particular, you need a set of good methods, tools and frameworks, the most important of which are listed in the following graphic:
A really excellent explanation on the question why your company needs an Enterprise (IT) Architecture comprising Standard IT Architecture Building Blocks (ABB) is provided in this short YouTube video: https://youtu.be/qDI2oF1bASk.
The IT Landscape Plan is an important element of effective IT architecture management, since it illustrates gaps (= potential missing IT support), redundancies (= potential double spendings) and dependencies (= potential complexity) between IT systems along the dimensions „business processes“ and „organizational units“:
A state-of-the-art IT architecture should rely on standards and best practices, such as the ISO/IEC 27000 family for Information Security Management, ISA 95 for Enterprise Control System Integration, COBIT for Enterprise IT Governance Management or the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) for IT Service Management&Delivery:
COBIT is an abbreviation for „Control Objectives for Information and related Technology“. It is the world’s leading framework for governance and management of Enterprise IT (see: http://www.isaca.org/Cobit/pages/default.aspx). COBIT is a very useful basis for an efficient reorganization of CIO functions in a practical and compliant way. It can easily be combined with ITIL and other IT frameworks that rather focus on IT service management and/or IT service delivery.
For each of the 37 IT governance processes, COBIT provides comprehensive process descriptions including process purpose statement, process goals and key performance indicators. A feasible IT Process Management Maturity (PMM) model is included in the COBIT framework as well:
Since resources (people, budget, time, management capacity) are usually constrained, IT projects as well as IT services need to be prioritized utilizing a portfolio systematics. This portfolio systematics needs to be customized to the specific needs of your business and may comprise prioritization factors such as strategy&architecture fit, legal®ulatory compliance, benefits in relation to cost or overall portfolio risk&complexity:
The worst IT Solution from the best IT solution provider might be better, than the best IT Solution from the worst IT solution provider. So better keep a close eye on selecting an adequate IT solution provider as well, e.g. with regard to competency, customer orientation, reliability/resilience, innovation capacity or dependency (catchwords: monopolist, vendor lock-in).
For the selection of adequate IT suppliers it is useful to follow a systematic approach:
The same applies for the selection of IT solutions:
A scoring model, which weights each criterion according to its individual meaning for your company, may be reasonable for externalization, if it is not mechanically applied (so that the IT solution with the highest score must be selected).
Effectiveness („do the right things“) is more important than efficiency („do the things right“). Why? Well, if you drive in the wrong direction, even a first-class 600 horse power car, steered by the best driver in the world, won’t bring you to your target destination.
The performance and conformance of a CIO function develop best when both is managed systematically. In this context Peter Drucker’s old wisdom applies: „Only measure what you want to control. And only control what you can measure.“.
An exception to this rule is the topic of „innovation“, where Gunter Dueck’s striking insight applies: „The process is the death of innovation“.
P.S.: A „Quick Check“ to determine the maturity level of your CIO organization can be accomplished with a manageable effort between 3 and 30 man-days depending on the magnitude and complexity of the CIO organization. If you are interested in further details please check my homepage http://www.kubra.de/index-e.html.
PART 2: CXO’S READING LIST
Subsequent you find a reading list with various blogs on major topics with relevance for CxOs and those who want to develop into this profession:
- „Deliverables of Information Technology for business“ published on September 14, 2019: https://kubraconsult.blog/2019/09/14/deliverables-of-information-technology-for-business/ (so far only available in English language).
- „George Orwell’s 1984 was a warning and not an instruction manual“ published on January 13, 2020, in German language: https://kubraconsult.blog/2020/01/13/george-orwells-1984-war-eine-warnung-und-keine-bedienungsanleitung/ (automatic translation into English with Google Translator: https://t1p.de/ulx5).
- „How was Adolf Hitler possible?“ published on November 10, 2019, in German language: https://kubraconsult.blog/2019/11/10/wie-war-adolf-hitler-moeglich/ (automatic translation into English with Google Translator: https://t1p.de/e62u).
- „Effective information retrieval and valuable information sources“ published on July 31, 2019: https://kubraconsult.blog/2019/07/31/effective-information-retrieval-and-valuable-information-sources/ (so far only available in English language).
- „Popularity ranking of my LinkedIn-blogs“ published on July 29, 2019: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/popularity-ranking-my-linkedin-blogs-kurt-brand/ (so far only available in English language).
- „The future of mobility goes far beyond electric power train versus combustion engine“ published on June 6, 2019: https://kubraconsult.blog/2019/06/09/the-future-of-mobility-goes-far-beyond-electric-power-train-versus-combustion-engine/ (so far only available in English language).
- „Electric Cars – Pros and Cons“ published on November 5, 2019, in German language: https://kubraconsult.blog/2019/11/05/elektroautos-pro-und-contra/ (automatic translation into English with Google Translator: https://t1p.de/4wo9).
- „General speed limit on German motorways – Data and Facts“ published on October 18, 2019, in German language: https://kubraconsult.blog/2019/10/18/generelles-tempolimit-auf-deutschen-autobahnen-daten-und-fakten/ (automatic translation into English with Google Translator: https://t1p.de/z59c).
- „Flying instead of driving: Why electric cars are not the best solution“ published on November 18, 2017: https://kubraconsult.blog/2017/11/18/flying-instead-of-driving-electric-cars-are-not-the-best-solution/ (German version: https://kubraconsult.blog/2017/11/18/fliegen-statt-fahren-elektroautos-sind-nicht-die-beste-loesung/).
- „Facts and Figures on climate change and global warming“ published on May 12, 2019: https://kubraconsult.blog/2019/05/12/secrets-and-lies-of-the-climate-change/ (so far only available in English language).
- „Germany’s performance as export nation – facts and key success factors“ published on July 4, 2019: https://kubraconsult.blog/2019/07/04/germanys-performance-as-export-nation-facts-and-key-success-factors/ (so far only available in English language).
- A comprehensive introduction into „Digital business models and Platform Economy“ is provided in my blog published on November 4, 2017: https://kubraconsult.blog/2017/11/04/digital-business-models-and-platform-economy/ (German version: https://kubraconsult.blog/2017/09/06/digitale-geschaeftsmodelle-und-plattformoekonomie/).
- „What tomorrow’s digital champions can learn from Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook & Co.“ is explained in my blog of the same name published on April 28, 2017: https://kubraconsult.blog/2017/04/28/what-tomorrows-digital-champions-can-learn-from-apple-google-amazon-facebook-co/ (German version: https://kubraconsult.blog/2017/01/20/was-koennen-die-digitalen-champions-von-morgen-von-apple-google-amazon-facebook-co-lernen/).
- „The socio-economic consequences of Digitalization“ are described in my blog of the same name published on March 17, 2017: https://kubraconsult.blog/2017/03/17/the-socio-economic-consequences-of-digitalization/ (German version: https://kubraconsult.blog/2017/03/14/die-soziooekonomischen-folgen-der-digitalisierung/).
- „What we can learn from a bread cupboard about the importance of eBusiness for small and micro enterprises“ is explained in my blog of the same name published on August 8, 2018: https://kubraconsult.blog/2018/08/08/what-we-can-learn-from-a-bread-cupboard-about-the-importance-of-ebusiness-for-small-and-micro-enterprises/ (original German version published on April 16, 2016: https://kubraconsult.blog/2017/01/18/was-wir-von-einem-brotschrank-ueber-die-bedeutung-des-ebusiness-fuer-kleine-und-kleinste-unternehmen-lernen-koennen/).
- The major elements of a „Digitalization strategy for countries (using Germany as an example)“ are provided in my blog of the same name published on February 21, 2018: https://kubraconsult.blog/2018/02/21/digitalization-strategy-for-countries-using-germany-as-an-example/ (German version: https://kubraconsult.blog/2018/02/17/digitalisierungsstrategie-fuer-deutschland/).
- „The leap into self-employment as a freelance IT consultant“ published on August 9, 2018, in German language: https://kubraconsult.blog/2018/08/09/der-sprung-in-die-selbstaendigkeit-als-freiberuflicher-it-berater/ (automatic translation into English with Google Translator: https://t1p.de/viss )
- „Starting as CIO – experiences and tips for the optimal design of the first weeks in your new environment“ published on January 26, 2016, in German language: https://kubraconsult.blog/2017/01/18/der-einstieg-als-cio-erfahrungen-und-tipps-zur-optimalen-gestaltung-der-ersten-wochen-ihrem-neuen-umfeld/ (automatic translation into English with Google Translator: https://t1p.de/axxu).
- „Good questions and bad questions for job interviews“ to hire the best talents for your team are provided in my blog of the same name published on February 28, 2018: https://kubraconsult.blog/2018/02/28/job-interviews-good-questions-bad-questions/ (German version: https://kubraconsult.blog/2018/02/28/bewerberinterviews-gute-fragen-schlechte-fragen/).
- „What CIOs really expect from Account Managers“ is described in my blog of the same name published on April 16, 2017: https://kubraconsult.blog/2017/04/16/what-cios-really-want-from-account-managers/ (German version: https://kubraconsult.blog/2017/04/27/was-cios-wirklich-von-account-managern-erwarten/).
- „Why Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) projects really fail“ is described in my blog of the same name published on February 9, 2018: https://kubraconsult.blog/2018/02/09/why-erp-projects-really-fail/ (German version: https://kubraconsult.blog/2018/02/08/woran-erp-projekte-wirklich-scheitern/).
- „Firefighting: Some thoughts on how to effectively resolve mission critical problems“ are provided in my blog of the same name published on April 22, 2016: https://kubraconsult.blog/2017/01/18/firefighting-some-thoughts-on-how-to-effectively-resolve-mission-critical-problems/ (German version published on July 29, 2018: https://kubraconsult.blog/2018/07/29/krisenmanagement-grundlegende-gedanken-zur-effektiven-loesung-unternehmenskritischer-probleme/).
- „Major criteria for the selection of IT solutions“ are provided in my blog of the same name published on April 27, 2017: https://kubraconsult.blog/2017/01/18/major-criteria-for-selection-of-it-solutions/ (German version: https://kubraconsult.blog/2017/04/27/wesentliche-kriterien-fuer-die-auswahl-von-it-loesungen/).
- „A practical approach for IT cost reduction“ is provided in my blog of the same name published on January 4, 2017: https://kubraconsult.blog/2017/01/18/it-cost-reduction-a-practical-approach/ (German version: https://kubraconsult.blog/2018/05/09/it-kostensenkungen-ein-praktischer-ansatz/).
- „15 basic leadership principles with proven effectiveness“ are provided in my blog of the same name published on January 10, 2017: https://kubraconsult.blog/2017/01/18/15-basic-leadership-principles-with-proven-effectiveness/ (note: this blog is only available in English language so far).
- „How to successfully lead global teams“ is described in my blog of the same name published on February 9, 2017: https://kubraconsult.blog/2017/02/09/how-to-successfully-lead-global-teams/ (note: this blog is only available in English language so far).
- „What humanoid robots nowadays are already capable of doing“ you can learn in my blog of the same name published on November 17, 2017: https://kubraconsult.blog/2017/11/17/what-humanoid-robots-are-already-capable-to-do-today/ (note: this blog is only available in English language so far).
- „Crypto Assets – the most important Q&A“ are provided in my blog of the same name published on December 23, 2017: https://kubraconsult.blog/2017/12/23/cryptocurrencies-the-most-important-qa/ (German version: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/krypto-assets-die-wichtigsten-fragen-und-antworten-kurt-brand/).
- „The most important facts and milestones on Bitcoin and Blockchains“ are described in my blog of the same name published on August 27, 2017: https://kubraconsult.blog/2017/08/27/the-most-important-facts-and-milestones-of-bitcoin-and-blockchains/ (German version: https://kubraconsult.blog/2017/08/21/die-wichtigsten-fakten-und-meilensteine-zur-bitcoin-kryptowaehrung/).
- „Why Bitcoin&Co. are by far not the biggest issue in our global financial system“ is explained in my blog of the same name published on November 28, 2017: https://kubraconsult.blog/2017/11/28/why-bitcoinco-are-by-far-not-the-biggest-issue-in-our-global-financial-system/ (German version: https://kubraconsult.blog/2017/11/29/warum-bitcoinco-bei-weitem-nicht-das-groesste-problem-in-unserem-globalen-finanzsystem-sind/).
- „The reframing of information security and data privacy as business enabler“ is explained in my blog published on September 26, 2018: https://kubraconsult.blog/2018/09/26/reframing-information-security-and-data-privacy-as-business-enabler/ (this blog is so far only available in English language).
- „How the U.S. government discredits the U.S. American IT industry“ you can learn in my blog of the same name published on August 20, 2017: https://kubraconsult.blog/2017/08/20/how-the-us-government-discredits-the-us-american-it-industry/ (German version: https://kubraconsult.blog/2017/03/08/wie-die-us-regierung-das-internet-diskreditiert/).
- Why Smartphones are an ideal tool to spy on you, your family&friends and your colleagues is explained in my blog „The spy in your pocket“ published on April 25, 2017: https://kubraconsult.blog/2017/04/25/thy-spy-in-your-pocket/ (German version: https://kubraconsult.blog/2017/04/25/der-spion-in-ihrer-tasche/).
- „What the new rules of the General Date Protection Regulation mean for EU citizens“ can be read in my blog of the same name published on May 27, 2018: https://kubraconsult.blog/2018/05/27/general-protection-regulation-gdpr-comprehensible-what-the-new-eu-rules-mean-for-citizens/ (German version: https://kubraconsult.blog/2018/05/04/datenschutz-grundverordnung-dsgvo-verstaendlich-was-die-neuen-eu-regeln-fuer-die-buerger-bedeuten/).
- My Blog on „Business-oriented IT – trying to square the circle?“ published on August 24, 2018, can be found here: https://kubraconsult.blog/2018/08/24/geschaeftsorientierte-it-die-quadratur-des-kreises/ (this blog is so far only available in German language).
- „Thoughts on the basics of change“ are provided in my blog of the same name published on August 28, 2018 (so far only available in English language): https://kubraconsult.blog/2018/08/28/basic-prerequisites-for-effective-change/.
- „How to successfully change a corporate culture“ is explained in my blog of the same name published on June 10, 2017: https://kubraconsult.blog/2017/06/10/how-to-successfully-change-a-corporate-culture/ (German version: https://kubraconsult.blog/2017/05/27/wie-kann-man-eine-unternehmenskultur-nachhaltig-veraendern/).
- „What top managers can learn from top athletes“ is described in my blog published on September 23, 2018: https://kubraconsult.blog/2018/09/23/what-top-managers-can-learn-from-top-athletes/ (this blog is so far only available in English language).
- „The unwritten rules of the game“ are described in my blog of the same name published on April 11, 2017: https://kubraconsult.blog/2017/04/11/the-unwritten-rules-of-the-game/ (German version: https://kubraconsult.blog/2018/05/16/die-heimlichen-spielregeln/).
- „Why you should give good tips to bad waiters“ in the interest of your personality development, is explained in my blog published on April 23, 2016: https://kubraconsult.blog/2017/01/18/personality-development-why-you-should-give-good-tips-to-bad-waiters/ (German version: https://kubraconsult.blog/2017/07/21/persoenlichkeitsentwicklung-warum-sie-schlechten-bedienungen-gute-trinkgelder-geben-sollten/).
- „Four essential factors for an adequate work life balance“ can be found in my blog published on October 31, 2017: https://kubraconsult.blog/2017/10/31/four-essential-factors-for-an-adequate-work-life-balance/ (German version: https://kubraconsult.blog/2017/01/18/vier-wichtige-faktoren-fuer-eine-angemessene-work-life-balance/).
- „Eighteen „brutal truths“ about life no one wants to admit“, are explained in a blog published on July 25, 2017: https://bornrealist.com/brutal-truth/ (I have translated this blog into German language on December 27, 2017: https://kubraconsult.blog/2017/12/27/18-brutale-wahrheiten-die-sich-niemand-eingestehen-will/).
- „Thirteen things you should give up if you want to be successful“, are provided in a blog published by Zdravko Cvijetic (founder of „Zero to Skill“) in December 2016, which is only available in English language so far: https://kubraconsult.blog/2017/02/19/13-things-you-should-give-up-if-you-want-to-be-successful/.
- „The secret of happy children“ is explained in my blog published on August 21, 2018: https://kubraconsult.blog/2017/02/18/das-geheimnis-gluecklicher-kinder/ (original German version published on August 1, 2017, see: https://kubraconsult.blog/2018/08/21/the-secret-of-happy-children/).
- „The influence of social media on the division of society“ is explained in my blog published on September 13, 2018: https://kubraconsult.blog/2018/09/13/der-einfluss-der-informationsgesellschaft-auf-die-spaltung-der-gesellschaft/ (this blog is so far only available in German language).
- „What we can learn from Rezo“ is explained in my blog published on May 29, 2019, in German language: https://kubraconsult.blog/2019/05/29/was-wir-von-rezo%e2%80%8b-lernen-koennen/ (automatic translation into English with Google Translator: https://t1p.de/ictg).
- „Why the global financial crisis is the true mother of all political issues in Germany“, is explained in my blog published on September 15, 2018: https://kubraconsult.blog/2018/09/15/the-true-mother-of-all-problems/ (this blog is the English translation of a blog published in German language at Krautreporter.de)
- My blog under the headline „Unequal land and its consequences“ published on May 11, 2018, is provided here: https://kubraconsult.blog/2018/05/11/unequal-land-and-its-consequences/ (German version published on May 8, 2018, see: https://kubraconsult.blog/2018/05/08/ungleichland-und-seine-folgen/).
- „Facts and figures about the European Union“ (Update 12/2017) are provided in a blog published on March 18, 2018: https://kubraconsult.blog/2018/03/19/facts-and-figures-about-the-european-union-update-12-2017/ (Deutsche Fassung vom 07.12.2017 siehe: https://kubraconsult.blog/2017/12/07/daten-und-fakten-zur-europaeischen-union-update-12-2017/).
- „The life lies of the Euro“ are described in my blog of the same name published on July 26, 2018: https://kubraconsult.blog/2018/07/24/the-life-lies-of-the-euro/ (German version published on July 8, 2018, see: https://kubraconsult.blog/2018/07/09/die-lebensluegen-des-euro/).
Please, let me know, which additional topics you might be interested in. I will consider your input in the planning of my future blogs.