Posted: October 24, 2017

According to the 2017 State of the CIO survey, future CIOs will likely spend less time on functional activities like cost control, vendor negotiation, IT operation improvement, and IT crisis management. Instead, you will begin to shift your focus to more strategic and transformational activities, such as driving business innovation, cultivating the IT-business partnership, and developing new go-to-market strategies and technologies.

But, what does this mean for CIOs, CTOs, and other healthcare IT executives? What are the skills IT professionals need to take on a more strategic role within your healthcare organizations?

#1. Communicate and collaborate
Healthcare CIOs and CTOs need to actively understand what other departments are doing and be able to communicate technology’s role throughout the organization. It’s important that IT leaders not only keep up on technology, but also stay informed on finance, sales, marketing, and other aspects of the business. This knowledge can help you see the big picture and understand how technology affects all business areas.

According to author Kasey Panetta, Gartner estimates by 2020, 100 percent of IT roles will require an intermediate level of proficiency in business acumen.

Panetta goes on to say that systematic communication practices will allow CIOs to:
1) Clearly identify changes in the business and how those changes will affect IT strategy
2) Establish clear roles and contributions on an employee level
3) Inspire actions and commitments to deliver better business results.

Furthermore, as we explored in this recent post, healthcare CTOs must also understand the specifics of how new technology impacts your organization and the opportunity it creates for growth among team members and towards business goals.

#2. Understand consumers through data
According to the 2017 State of the CIO survey, improving the consumer experience should be a top priority for CIOs. Top-performing IT professionals will need to understand data and learn to use it to their advantage. This means understanding the consumer’s wants and needs and allowing consumer data to drive business decisions.

Empowered IT professionals should also look for opportunities to connect with consumers, dive deep into data, collaborate with digital experience and marketing peers, and use technology to create value and drive revenue for the business.

In her Information Week article, Jessica Davis encourages IT professionals to boost data analytics skills from sources including universities, online trainings, and technology boot camps. This training should include analytics, forecasting, and modeling, to prepare healthcare CIOs to answer colleague questions on topics like how to reduce churn, limit risk exposure, or identify potential fraud.

#3. Be cybersecurity focused
According to the 2017 State of the CIO survey, one functional responsibility CIOs don’t expect to spend less time on in the future is security management. In Information Week, Andrew Froelich describes the first half of 2017 as a “terrifying ordeal in terms of the state of IT security.” He cites the WannaCry ransomware attack, which became the largest and fastest growing malware in history. Incidentally, WannaCry spread because of the poor state of patch compliance across our industry. In other words, WannaCry is as much a problem of basic IT as it is a security problem. Froelich also reminds us that data and infrastructure security professionals have been inundated with a constant stream of newly identified security flaws on hardware and software deployed on production networks.

With so much being moved to the cloud, healthcare CIOs will need the ability to manage a portfolio of technology not entirely under IT control. Besides understanding the technical side of managing security, CIOs need to help executives understand the risk level and what needs to be done. For example, non-technical executives might think the cloud “takes care of security.” The CIO should educate his or her peers on the shared-responsibility security model normally adopted by cloud providers whereby the cloud provider and the customer share responsibilities for different layers of the infrastructure and cloud-based applications.

#4. Embrace and drive change
Healthcare CIOs should be focusing on digital transformation and making the case to your executive boards, demonstrating the power of digital transformation through IT innovation. The CIO Sentiment Survey shows that more than one out of three CIOs expect to introduce products out of IT that drive new business and allow their companies to compete in new markets.

Top-level IT professionals should also be aware of new and advancing technology and what makes a worthwhile investment. When looking to invest in new technology, healthcare CIOs and CTOs should consider how it would affect customer engagement and retention efforts. You should also avoid letting past technology investments hold you back from making the right investments today.

Forrester executives encourage CIOs to pilot new and agile technology approaches and choices. Successful healthcare CIOs will be change agents working to drive business transformation. You should be willing to test new things quickly and iterate through projects that show promise.

Ultimately, strategic responsibilities – such as aligning IT initiatives with key business goals and cultivating IT-business partnerships – are quickly becoming as much a priority for healthcare CIOs as more traditional functions like: controlling costs, improving IT operations, and handling day-to-day crisis management. In order to become true heroes of your organization, empowered CIOs and CTOs will need to acquire the skills needed to make the shift to a more strategic role.

The successful IT executive must possess both executive and technical skills. To learn more about how you can help your organization build a winning strategy, request an assessment.