Helen Norris is one of the many high-caliber IT Executives who will be facilitating group discussions at NCS Madison’s CIO & CISO Strategy Meeting on January 28, 2020 in Los Angeles, CA.

Helen will be leading the  CIO Leadership in 2020 group discussion. Here is a preview of what she shared with us in a recent interview for her upcoming session.

“The role of the CIO has become visionary, identifying how technology can transform the organization. This is where we add value – partnering with our colleagues to use technology.”

What leadership capabilities does the CIO need to develop to lead organizational transformation in 2020?

To lead meaningful change, CIOs must be skilled in collaboration and communication. CIOs need to be able to articulate a vision of a transformed organization. To develop that vision, CIOs must collaborate with their colleagues across the organization and their teams in IT to understand the critical issues and identify solutions that lead to meaningful transformation. The key skills needed to develop these are listening and empathy. You can’t understand the needs of the organization if you don’t listen to your colleagues with deep understanding. CIOs also need to be skilled at influencing others. Getting organizational commitment to transformation is critical to the success of any transformation initiative. You can’t simply order people to get on board. You need real buy-in to have success. 


Why is creating value critical to the CIO role?

In the past, technology was a back-office function, focusing on infrastructure and enterprise applications. In the 21st century, technology is an organizational driver. Everything we do can be transformed by technology, and that technology is usually available from service providers outside the organization. The role of the CIO has become visionary, identifying how technology can transform the organization. This is where we add value – partnering with our colleagues to use technology. If this isn’t our primary function, if we’re just a customer service provider, then we’re simply a service that can be outsourced.


What three trends do you think will drive the CIO position in 2020 and the next three years?

Obviously, AI is here and it’s critical for the CIO to lead their organizations through AI-based initiatives. Secondly, increasing focus on privacy and consumer ownership of data is a key trend that will impact organizations over the next three years. Finally, the changing workforce is a critical issue for CIOs, both in terms of their own IT organizations and in supporting the organization in general.


What drives revenue-generating opportunities through customers and ecosystem management?

As I have worked in the non-profit world for many years, I don’t feel qualified to answer a question about revenue generation. However, in my world, I would say our students come closest to filling the role of my customer. Enhancing the student experience is critical to the organization’s success. As a CIO, focusing on how we can drive a better student experience is always a priority. Today, this is true across the board. We’re an experience-driven society; companies can drive revenue through enhancing the customer experience, and technology can be critical to that.


What do you consider the best practice(s) for creating and maintaining personalized relationships with core stakeholders?

In this age of electronic communications, I believe the best way to create and maintain deep relationships with my colleagues across the organization is still through personal contact.  I think it’s critical to set aside the time to frequently meet with stakeholders, on their turf, in order to listen and connect with them. It’s simply about putting in the time and energy into those relationships. It’s also obviously important to build trust by being honest and ethical. So be proactive in building relationships, and keep your word.


What is one thing you would like the attendees of your discussion group to leave knowing?

Understand that technology is all about the people!


Why have you decided to join us at the 2020 Los Angeles CIO & CISO Strategy Meeting?

I enjoy networking with my colleagues and I learn so much when I take the time to do so. On a separate note, I am passionate about diversity in IT, and I am particularly focused on gender diversity. I would like to see more women be engaged in technology. I think we can make progress in this regard through better visibility and I appreciate the opportunity for me to be visible through facilitating sessions at events like this. I hope that demonstrates to other women that there is a place for them in technology. Thank you for including me this way.


We still have limited seats available for the CIO & CISO Strategy Meeting in Los Angeles. If you are interested in participating in Helen Norris’s CIO Leadership in 2020 discussion group or any of the other great discussion groups available register here: https://ncsmadison.com/cio-ciso-la/