In the military, one of the more interesting jobs is the supply specialist who keeps the armory and warehouses stocked. These wonderful folks, usually infectiously enthusiastic and salty of tongue, are the difference between theater success or failure. The amount of ‘stuff’ that a single soldier needs can be overwhelming. In early military days you might get two uniforms, boots, a helmut, a rifle, and out the door. Today it is helmut, vest, mask, rifle, pistol, bomb suit (you do not want one of these), packs/sacks/bags for gear, clothing for all temperatures, first aid, entrenching tools, ammunition, night vision equipment, an iPhone, and a whole lot more.
Listening to CIOs, many sound like the chief supply officer working with their supply specialists. Yes, they are on top of inventory, issue the RFPs, unload the supplies (hardware/software), issue the equipment/gear (test/provision), troubleshoot, coordinate delivery. That is not strategy.
As much as you cannot win a war without logistics (and Napolean was the best example of grasping this), you also cannot win at business on logistics and supplies alone. Vision, strategy and tactics have to be orchestrated perfectly with logistics for success.
To support the view that there is a gap between the current vision of the CIO and the role of the best CIO, take a look at Gartner surveys of the CIO and CEO asking them about the focus of investment.
The CIO says: 1) BI/Analytics 2) Infrastructure and Data Center 3) Cloud 4) ERP 5) Mobile
The CEO says: 1) Digital marketing 2) eCommerce 3) Customer Experience 4) Business analytics 5) Cloud based
Basically, the CEO is communicating: we need to do our best to attract the customer in a digital world, get the goods and services into their hands, make sure that they are happy, be able to measure the profitability and agility, and get the technology onto a modern stack. Clear, direct, top/bottom line orientation.
And the best CIOs are in synch with the CEO – looking for the innovative technologies to attract, transact, and please the end customer (not the internal customer), all of the while measuring the results.
Who are you? Supply specialist or maestro of business innovation?
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