The average tenure of a CIO is 18 months – the highest turnover rate of C-suite executives. One of the first tasks of a new CIO is to understand the company’s IT environment, what assets they have, and how it is used to support business operations. It seems like a rather simple request, but the initial “environment briefing” can be one of the most difficult and anxiety-provoking activities IT staff members are asked to perform.
Understanding the IT environment
In modern companies, IT environments are big, they are complicated and they change quickly. Explaining the contents of your IT environment to a new CIO is a difficult task. There is much information to consume, coming from a variety of different sources and, often, the information is contradictory, leading to confusion. Confusion is not the first impression IT staff members want to make with a new leader. Doing so could put their careers in jeopardy.
Not only are IT staff members anxious, but also the new CIO is probably a bit nervous too. They both probably have a general idea of the complexity of the environment. Company leadership has probably tasked the IT staff with some goals and directives about necessary improvements and other changes, such as reducing costs, enabling new business capabilities, or supporting a digital transformation initiative.
To start to understand the company’s IT environment, the CIO must know what resources are available to him/her. He/she knows the staff will try to make a good first impression, and is worried gaps in information may be lightly explained and problem areas barely mentioned. A new CIO needs information and people they can trust.
Onboarding the CIO in your IT environment
When it’s time to onboard a new leader in your IT environment, it is always good to start with the core information that he/she must understand.
- What are the types of IT assets and where they are located?
- Standardized asset classes (network devices, physical servers, cloud services, licensed software, etc.).
- Asset groupings to support specific business processes (sales systems, finance systems, etc.).
- Known problem areas that must be addressed.
- Aging systems almost at the end of their useful life.
Organizing this information so it can be easily understood without diluting its rich, technical details to the point it becomes unusable can be challenging. Successfully simplifying technical complexity and communicating it in a way the new leader can understand is essential for everyone to be successful in this situation.
Long tabular reports can be highly accurate, but don’t do a very good job of highlighting what is important. Presentation slides with pie charts, graphs, and summary statistics can be informative, but often aren’t very actionable. The IT staff must develop and utilize an effective, and easily-understood format to present what is needed with a considerable amount of data-rich detail.
Visualization: the key to presenting IT data and gleaning insights
The human brain can consume, process, and understand far more information in a visual format than with words and raw numbers. With data visualization capabilities like those found in Virima, staff can gather IT asset data from throughout your IT systems and model, both the objects and relationships, in a way that reveals the big picture of what is present and how they connect.
When the underlying data is enriched to include various elements, such as lifecycle status, support organizations, location and business processes, the new CIO is able to see clearly what is available to him/her, who is using it, and where there are opportunities for improvement.
For IT staff members, briefing the new leader with a presentation that uses visualization capabilities not only demonstrates you understand the big picture of the environment and are a competent subject matter expert, but also you understand the needs of the executive by providing consumable and actionable information.
CIOs may change frequently, but with a positive attitude, a solid approach and the right set of visualization tools, the new-leader briefing of your IT environment is an opportunity for the IT staff to shine. Learn how Visualization can help your organization by downloading the Discovery & Visualization whitepaper.
Virima is here to help. To get started, contact us today to schedule a demo and explore the possibilities!