LinkedInLou M recently asked LinkedIn’s Chief Information Officer (CIO) Network Group:“Many CIOs struggle with how to shift from a technical operational/support role to one of revenue/business enabler. What are your suggestions for making this shift successfully?”

Here’s how I answered the question:

CIOs may be their own worst enemies here. Consider how much time and effort they spend trying to LIMIT the scope of the initiatives and priorities their charged with — working to meet only the MINIMUM requirements of a given assignment so they can get on to the next one that’s been waiting, impatiently, in the queue. But aiming for the minimum, which is not all that uncommon, increases the probabilities of falling short, and as others have already indicated, it’s tough for a CIO to sell something NEW when others consider IT’s ‘core’ responsibilities not being properly met.

But therein may be the leverage the CIO can use: Rather than framing ‘becoming a revenue/business enabler’ as an opportunity separate and apart from the ‘regular’ work, position it as a happy consequence of elegantly addressing the bona fide IT problems already out there.

Example: Remember Walgreen’s huge IT problem? Stores couldn’t send/receive the data they needed; each store was an island unto itself; and customers felt a disconnect between Walgreen’s, the brand, and its individual stores. But by doing more than just the minimum to address this problem, IT created an infrastructure that not only solved store-to-headquarters connectivity, but enabled store-to-store connectivity, as well. And THAT enabled an entirely new, ground-breaking, marketing campaign that made them millions. (Who among us HASN’T forgotten to bring their prescription meds on a trip at some point but was easily able to get a mini-refill at an out-of-state Walgreen’s… and pick up a few other things while you were there?!)

So rather than starting from scratch, try looking at the projects and programs already in queue and ask yourself (and your staff) how might ‘more than the minimum’ help leverage them into something elegantly revenue/business enabling?

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