I’ve recently launched Stamp London’s first physical product – a set of playing cards called CIO Priorities. You can find out more about them here, and order a set for yourself here (or simply download the PDF and print them out).

Over the next few weeks I’m going to run through each of the cards in turn, adding a bit more context to the dozen or so Gill Sans words that appear on each.

Before we start, it’s worth noting that the full set of CIO Priorities isn’t a coherent whole. It isn’t an IT Strategy in a Box. There are contradictions. There are mutually opposed ideas.

That in part is an illustration of the breadth and complexity of the role of the Chief Information Officer in today’s world – it’s not one-size-fits-all. Technology has become so important to most businesses that the priorities for any particular CIO should be contextual to that organisation.

Right then, with that caveat noted, here we go:

CIO Priority 1:

Priorities specific to my business’s industry.

We start with a wildcard. And one that should to a great extent guide the framing of any particular organisation’s technology priorities. If you are in healthcare or legal or media or manufacturing or government or wherever else, there will be priorities that are unique to your industry.

Depressingly, partly because of an obsession with the “shiny shiny”, partly because of the technology industry’s relentless pursuit of the new new thing, we will find that many of the priorities of the CIO are in fact completely technology-centric. Which if you set up a department whose role is to manage technology is an occupational hazard.

Over the last 15 years or so, I’ve become more and more convinced that the whole reason for building in-house capacity for managing technology is to understand the business first and the application of technology second. Particularly as much of the tradition of what needed to be managed is abstracted away through Cloud-based services, pursuit of business understanding is the answer to an otherwise existential threat.

Great CIOs, from my experience, understand this. Business understanding is their USP, and deep technical expertise can be brought in from outside when required to be applied in context.

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