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As a CIO, business continuity goes all the way from planning to development

As a CIO, business continuity goes all the way from planning to development

25/08/2016 10:08 by James Warner
Key Accounts Manager

CIOs should be helping businesses develop further but they are seldom asked to.

  • The role of a CIO touches every aspect of a business
  • Feedback is vital to business continuity
  • CIOs risk being side-lined if they don’t change

Less than one in five of the CIOs polled for this study have risen to become a full member of their company's executive management team.ey.com

The role of CIO touches every aspect of a business

Of the CIOs interviewed, 64% enjoy the scope and remit of their role. There's no denying that a CIOs role might stretch beyond what was traditionally known as information and communications.

Firstly, right from the planning stage, a CIO needs to be involved in understanding the budget of the IT department and its impact on the organisation. So already, we’re looking at finance and allocation skills.

Business continuity comes from knowledge of the core market, the businesses financial status and what could be lost or spiral out of control into a disaster.

When we look at execution and development activities, do CIOs have the skills to manage change, be it either internal or external forces?

Business continuity is about adapting with sudden change and without the CIO looking at each aspect of the business, there are gaps which could spell failure.

Managing relationships with other key officers is the difference between success and failure. The Chief Financial Officer, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Human Resource Officer can deliver the necessary insight to a solid business continuity plan.

For the CIO to develop a solid business continuity plan, they need to have strategic knowledge of what a disaster or change could affect within the business. This comes from managing relationships.

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Feedback is vital to business continuity

Feedback and change are a two way process. It’s all well and good for other business units to provide information to the CIO. But whatever changes in the business needs to be measured and the CIO needs to feed back to other departments about how this affects their business processes.

A CIO should be at the forefront of innovation thought-leadership, letting other departments know how change affects those departments. They can shape the future of the strategies and models that the business uses.

How does this affect business continuity? A BU plan isn’t set in stone; it adapts and moves with internal change and growth. But it also needs to be seen as valuable when sudden, unwanted change happens.

Business continuity is an evolving process, halfway between flexibility and rigid structure. It needs to restore businesses and assist them during change. But it has to adapt to how the business wants to grow.

With a feedback loop and insight provided on from both sides, CIOs can develop strategies that grow business models and deal with worst case scenarios.

When change or growth is being experienced by other departments, the feedback CIOs garner from those areas is vital. Chief Information Officers provide direction to business continuity plans. Those same plans give confidence and structure back to other departments.

CIOs risk being sidelined if they don’t change

“When asked about the degree to which they participate in strategic decision-making, responses were lukewarm, with just 43% rating this as something that they are highly engaged in.”

It’s too easy to point blame, but CIOs are renowned for paying too much attention the technologies and architecture of systems. Many CIOs fail to hand over control, to team leaders and managers, in order to focus on providing value to other areas.

Absolutely CIOs are involved in managing and structuring the basics of the systems and IT spend. They help other departments organise their data and give focus to operational systems.

But they need to understand that a business continuity plan is so heavily weighted on technology, data and information because the rest of the business relies on those same tools.

The most rewarding part of the job is business development. Offering direction and strategy to the business model. But if CIOs don’t know where the business is heading, how can they know what needs to change to a business continuity plan?

If one of the roles of a CIO is enablement, helping other businesses be more productive and secure. Then surely business continuity is a central support for that enablement. With change, be it slow and forecast or fast and unexpected, CIOs still need to enable business units to do their job and remain safe and secure.

CIOs have an enormous amount of value to offer their entire business IF they exploit the insight that they have over other systems.

  • CIOs need to manage the enablement of other departments and encourage other departments to share their knowledge.
  • As business continuity changes with a business, CIOs need to feed back the strategies to take.
  • CIOs risk being excluded from strategic decisions that impact their role unless they stop working on the systems and start working on strategy.


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