How can the CIO source innovation?

Businesses need to move at lightning speed in the digital age, says Mark Samuels. So how can you keep pace with innovation?

We live and work in an age of hyper-flexibility. Customer demands change continually and technology systems must be adaptable. Your job, as CIO, is to source technological solutions to the intractable challenges your business faces. It is a far from straightforward task

If you are really lucky, then some of the best ideas will come from your internal team. For that to happen, your developers must be as close to front-end operations as possible. Your internal IT team should have an ear to the ground, continually listening and working with the business to create the kinds of applications that improve the business.

But internal development is just a part and an increasingly smaller element of the full story. IT innovation in the digital age comes from all directions. To be truly successful, you will need someone to help you. Your internal team might be great but smart ideas that can improve the business will spring from external sources, too.

So, what do these outside innovators look like? An important consideration for any executive considering improvement is to not be distracted by entrepreneurial visions. While certain individuals will have a natural creative leaning, you should not be blown off course by trends, fashions and personal preferences.

The rise of the guru' or evangelist' is one of the unfortunate side effects of the digital age. An increasingly flexible approach to tasks and roles leads some people to try and increase their marketability through self-inflated job titles. Be naturally wary of those who describe themselves as having entrepreneurial vision.

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