This is an amazing time to be a CIO. The integration between technology and a company's revenue stream is becoming so seamless that every company is (or will be) a technology company; and this provides enormous career opportunities for CIOs. Keep your focus on supporting the business through efficient internal processes and systems, and you will live a gratifying CIO life. But expand your focus to customer-facing product development, and you will set yourself up for a wealth of new roles.
To understand how to make that happen, I spoke with four CIOs who successfully launched revenue-generating products and leveraged that experience to carve out a more multifaceted role for themselves within their respective organizations. They share their lessons below.
Partner with the business. In 2006, the marketing department at VistaPrint, a $US150 million company that provides customized printed products to small business, identified the need to offer customers the ability to design logos online. "Our software engineers created a way to algorithmically map the elements of a good logo," says Wendy Cebula, then CIO of VistaPrint. "We worked with marketing and developed a logo design tool that blew away the competition, and we integrated it as a new service on our site."
The logo design tool successfully enhanced revenue in three ways: VistaPrint customers tend to order more print products while using it, thus growing existing revenue; customers design logos for free but pay for reuse rights, a new revenue stream for the company; and businesses in search of logo design now visit VistaPrint, allowing the company to tap a new customer segment.
The tool was successful from a career perspective as well: Cebula was promoted to COO nine months later.
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