As you already know there is a growing figure in corporations which is the Chief Innovation Officer (CIO), whose main task is to keep progressively pushing for new things in the company. All sorts of corporations do already have this figure: retail, entertainment and even the legal profession. The CIO is usually a person who has proven interest for new concepts, and managing people with similar abilities.
However, what is the problem that face some of these CIO?. Very bluntly, corporations who are really competitive in the marketplace are usually also very competitive inside their own organizations. There are very notorious examples such as Apple´s or the sadly Stratton Oakmont featured in the movie “The wolf of Wall Street”. The risk in such companies is that the CIO (if the post eventually exists) is sometimes placed in the organisation chart in a staff function and not a key product line function. And then the managers from the different product o service lines view this executive and his/her team as sheer danger. Because they are seen as i) the people who can interfere “with the real innovation” that is really taking place in the company or, even worse, ii) the people that “do not know the business”, since they are not “in constant touch” with it.
All that being said, CIO are very valuable and they can become 100x more valuable. Imagine yourself in 10 years time. Imagine you call a company as being interested in buying a product or service. You arrange for a meeting. The provider arrives, and the conventional sales person you used to receive (and reject) is gone. It´s the CIO this time. You chit-chat for a few minutes and then you pull up your sleeves. “We are interested in your product, Mr CIO. Could you please tell us a bit about it? “Absolutely”, we would say. He then pulls out of his pocket three smartphones and sets them on the table. “You know what this is?”, he says. “Well….”. “This is the opportunity of you talking directly to three of my very best clients, I´ve arranged for them to be available on skype for 10 minutes in a half hour timeframe if you would like to ask them any direct questions. When you do so, I will leave the room”.
The stunt before explained does sound a bit agressive or selly, doesn´t it? But what would you say if the CIO comes out of the meeting with a signed US 100,000 contract? Mostly, the issue here is that the selling process is being tested by the providers´s CIO. Not the sales person, the CIO (or someone from his/her team anyway). The provider is testing how to improve the sales processes. Why does it make sense for the CIO to step in and test new procedures? Quite simple, there are no strings attached for this person. No mental anchors or barriers to overcome. He can test the selling process in a free mind framework.
Because friends, innovation and creativity is going to be everywhere. Very soon. And the CIO will not be “complementary post” anymore, it will be changing everything in our companies and become the highest paid officer in the company, after the CEO.
Do you believe this is business science fiction? Take a second thought, and remember that 7 years ago mobile phones had buttons, Uber was just a german word and electric cars didn´t run for 400 miles without charging. And by the way, for the companies who made this possible, the CEO was pretty much the CIO as well (Steve Jobs, – Apple -, Travis Kalanick – Uber – and Elon Musk – Tesla-).