CIO as Chief Innovation Officer

The role of chief information officer is morphing into a dual role as chief information/innovation officer, as CIOs increasingly are tapped to interpret the plethora of data they collect and harness it to develop and implement new strategies. Authors Peter Boatwright et al. say: “The new CIO must be the champion of a process for creating innovation where information is the key to successful development of innovative products and services.” The key is establishing an environment and process for innovation to occur. In their book, “The Design of Things to Com: How Ordinary People Create Extraordinary Products,” Boatwright and his colleagues cite BodyMedia, based in Pittsburgh, as an example of a company that took a look at societal trends and came up with a new twist on an existing technology. BodyMedia’s SenseWear body monitor armband uses leading-edge medical sensors to collect, analyze and report on the health status of the wearer. The company’s breakthrough insight came when it realized that people’s obsession with healthy lifestyles lent itself to full-time body monitoring. “The device caters to a lifestyle rather than serving as a banner of medical need. The functional, aesthetic and overall experiential qualities of the device are redefining body monitoring,” they write. “The four founders … developed a style of working that incorporates interaction among employees, customers, research and development …  Instead of developing technology and trying to find a solution, the founders harnessed their formal training to observe the dynamics of society, analyzed that information, and looked for gaps they could fill.”

(Optimize magazine Nov 2005)