Eduardo Fabiano, Global Head of Business Technologies for Sales and Marketing at Merck KGaA in Darmstadt, Germany, offered insights into leadership and management in today’s digital era during his keynote presentation to Argyle’s CIO membership at the 2018 CIO Leadership Forum: Data Strategy & Innovation in Boston on May 2. In his presentation, “Leading Your Team in the Digital Era,” Fabiano offered tips to help CIOs improve their leadership and management strategies.
Leading a team is challenging in any business landscape. Now, digital technologies have forced many CIOs to rethink their leadership and management approaches.
The digital era presents both opportunities and challenges for CIOs. On one hand, CIOs can leverage a broad array of digital technologies to connect with workers and drive employee engagement. Conversely, the sheer volume of digital technologies available to CIOs can be overwhelming. And if CIOs fail to deploy digital technologies effectively, they risk missing out on employee engagement opportunities or may alienate their work teams.
Digital technologies are valuable, but CIOs must understand how they work and how to use these technologies properly. Otherwise, CIOs are unlikely to maximize the value of their digital technology investments.
Meanwhile, CIOs should teach their work teams how to incorporate digital technologies into everyday business processes. This sometimes is challenging, especially for CIOs who struggle to disseminate information to their work teams.
“If we want to become experts in everything that is going on in the IT industry today, we’re probably not doing our job,” Fabiano indicated. “We need to rely on our teams [for expertise] … and we need a variety of soft skills.”
CIOs should have a clear-cut definition of digital and what it means for a business, too. In some instances, CIOs fail to define digital and its value for a business. Yet this may lead to many problems for a company, its employees and its customers.
If a company lacks a definition of digital and its impact on a business’ day-to-day operations, realizing the full potential of digital technologies may be difficult. However, if CIOs can highlight the benefits of digital technologies to a CEO and other key business stakeholders, these IT leaders could get the management buy-in they need to drive digital transformation across an entire organization.
“Every CEO has a different definition of going digital, and we need to understand exactly where the CEO wants to go with it,” Fabiano noted.
Digital technologies alone are insufficient, and CIOs must understand how these technologies can help a company improve its customer partnerships.
CIOs may believe they understand the customer experience (CX) and why customers choose to interact with one brand over another. But in certain instances, there is a significant gap between customers’ expectations and a company’s products and services.
“We need to really understand what it is that our customers want because we have the ability to tailor our [products and services] to what customers need,” Fabiano said.
Allocating time and resources to learn about the CX and understand customer expectations is paramount. Fortunately, digital technologies empower CIOs to collect and analyze a large assortment of customer data and gain the insights they need to provide customers with outstanding products, services and support.
“We think we know what our customers want, but maybe we don’t. We need to spend a lot more time listening to what our customers want,” Fabiano stated.
Furthermore, business meetings should provide value, particularly for CIOs who want to get the most out of their digital technology investments.
CIOs may host regular meetings that give IT professionals the opportunity to share their thoughts and opinions on myriad topics. Yet these meetings require a clear purpose, and they should encourage IT professionals to collaborate and innovate as well.
“I challenge my team to only share topics that involve benefits for other members of the team,” Fabiano pointed out. “This means that, at times, your team may have nothing to share, and that’s fine, because we need to engage everyone on our teams.”
Lastly, how CIOs approach problems can have far-flung effects on a company’s digital strategy.
Digital technologies should help CIOs understand the root causes of problems and determine the best ways to quickly address such issues. Additionally, digital technologies should empower CIOs to analyze a company’s ability to achieve its immediate and long-term goals.
With the right digital technologies in place, CIOs can identify business growth opportunities and tailor their everyday efforts accordingly. Perhaps best of all, CIOs can use digital technologies to engage IT professionals and drive meaningful business enhancements both now and in the future.
“It’s important to tie back to the why and figure out why we’re doing what we’re doing. Because people sometimes don’t see that,” Fabiano indicated. “That way, you can tie it back to the impact that an individual can have within an organization.”