CIOs have a vested interest in keeping up with emerging tech, and the overall performance of their companies often relies on their ability to do so. Things that a CIO can better handle when they have a firm grasp on new technologies include shifting business priorities that often require them to introduce new systems for flexible maneuverability.
Competitive pressure from other organizations in their industries also requires to have their finger on the pulse of what’s breaking new ground in the world of tech, especially if they want to retain their own competitive advantage.
With all these aspects of their businesses resting on their abilities to access information about emerging tech, CIOs stand to benefit from effective ways of accomplishing that. Thankfully, these five are among the best methods.
1. Networking With Other CIOs
A lone wolf approach to staying current on tech leaves many gaps in a CIO’s knowledge. Rather, an effort to network with other CIOs allows them to tap into the experiences of their colleagues and gain insights into what has worked in their organizations. Getting their news this way also confers the benefit that the hype of vendors is entirely absent, making for more objective reporting.
CIOs tend to readily share their thoughts and findings on disruptive emerging technologies that they’ve caught on their radars. A good place to meet a large number of them is at tech conferences, and here, they exchange contact details and LinkedIn profiles to build ongoing relationships.
2. Setting Aside Time for Research
While most CIOs can get ridiculously busy grappling with urgent and day-to-day business operations, timeboxing for research can prove an effective means for streamlining their workload in the long run. By allocating, say, a few hours a week to going through comprehensive briefings on new tech from sources like Wavestone US, they can identify emerging systems that fit into the flow of their own businesses.
CIOs can use this time to delve into what’s making the headlines, and they can whitelist options that have the potential to add value to their business. Still, it’s important to remember that not all that glitters is gold, and something might generate a buzz without fitting a company’s whole framework or it’s broader business goals.
3. Talking to Staff
One of the right-under-the-nose methods for CIOs to gain highly relevant insights into new tech is speaking to their staff. Technical team members can provide highly detailed information on the problems they are facing, and this can broaden the CIO’s understanding of where the currently available methods are falling short. This way, they’ll know what to look for when they’re looking at new alternatives.
For those who want to go a step further, attending conferences and boot camps presents an opportunity to get their hands dirty and see things from a more hands-on perspective.
Sales staff are also capable of providing unique insights. Since they are at the frontline, they have a vantage point to spot gaps in the business’ systems. Their interaction with customers also gives them a special understanding of customer pain points, which they can then relay to the CIO. This ensures that when the CIO is brainstorming improved methods, he focuses on aspects that provide a noticeable boost in the quality of customer service.
4. Talent Empowerment
In addition to merely mining input from their staff, CIOs can also provide them with the tools they need to craft their own ideas. Typically, this is done through a three-pronged method of understanding business problems, investing in talent, and then steering the talent’s efforts to creating solutions to the business problems.
One way to achieve this is through the development of internal talent and giving them the leeway to produce creative solutions to a business’s problems. It’s also important to make sure that the talent has unrestricted channels to communicate and present their ideas, as well as the assurance that their thoughts will be considered.
At the end of the day, an approach like this results in a department-wide focus on seeking out the latest tech, with an essential focus on how it’s qualified to solve the business’ problems. This means the CIO can have a passive yet more effective means of receiving the updates on the newest, with the bonus of talent-provided proposals. Because the staff has been empowered, these proposals are likely to fit into the overarching framework of the business’ existing systems.
5. Keeping an Eye on Underperforming Industries
Though this demands much less time and attention than staying abreast of what’s actually working, poking around to find what’s inhibiting certain industries can be a source of insight. Through learning more about the reasons behind a certain industry’s failures, especially those to do with tech, a CIO can gain an understanding of what processes and systems are beginning to lag behind.
If their organization is using some of them, they can start looking into newer alternatives before they start to experience the same problems.
For any CIO, keeping an ear to the ground and having a working knowledge of emerging tech is an invaluable part of their job. However, doing that can often feel like mounting something new on the flurry of activities that comprise their days in the office. That’s where the five tips above help.
Author’s bio: Saif Abbas is a writer, part-time entrepreneur, and digital marketing consultant that has worked with Fortune 500 brands and top startups across the globe. He is also a regular contributor to media outlets, including Huffington Post, Drift, Forbes, Ahref, Moz, Search Engine Land, and others.