Transformation of the Enterprise CIO

The opportunity and challenge for the CIO today is all about agility. The CIO is necessitated to don many hats – Operator, Technologist, Strategist and Catalyst – in order to drive values in a way which business-oriented colleagues can understand.

The Chief Information Officer (CIO) is one that is normally associated with the responsibility of the various Information Technology and Computer systems that support the organization’s goals and objectives. In today’s rapidly changing world, this seems to be more of a theoretical description of the role shouldered by the individual. Over the last 10 years, this role has been influenced strongly by technological winds of change leading to a strong metamorphosis in the expectations of the role than ever before. Most CIOs have been fortunate to witness the digital revolution, presenting them with a plethora of opportunities that we could not think of earlier. It has also helped organizations to equip themselves with more capabilities to explore new territories in niche areas. New business models have been introduced to optimize the use of technology in a better way and strategize business goals. Consequently, the CIO role is no longer confined to keeping abreast with new technological advancements but also lead changes in his/her organization.

“Today, the CIO has to interpret business knowledge and use it to play the enabler between available technologies and their optimum use to satisfy the customer in the least turnaround time.”
Milan Kumar
Global Chief Information Officer
WABCO

With the advent of highly disruptive technologies in the recent past – Social media, Mobile apps, Cloud computing, Big Data and analytics– the CIO role has become all the more important for implementing the above concepts in a highly fruitful way for organizations. Technology has permeated all levels of society, especially social media and cloud apps. For CIOs, just talking about technology is no longer in. Gone are the days of holding bulky PowerPoint presentations to showcase new technologies on the horizon and their use in the digital world. Today, the CIO has to interpret business knowledge and use it to play the enabler between available technologies and their optimum use to satisfy the customer in the least turnaround time. CIOs should strongly focus on digital transformation; to achieve this, it is important to provide accurate information and suitable tools in the hands of customers, partners, employees and helping the business find new digital revenue streams.

A New Territory – Customer Experience

Of late, Customer Experience (CX) has been assuming paramount importance. CX is all about the ways in which a customer or prospective customer interacts with the organization through various channels– social media, phone, surveys, emails, etc. The roles and responsibilities of the CIO have extended to this area as well, thanks to the advent of technology as an enabler for better customer communication and feedback. Amidst all this, the IT department is still a critical department for the organization, it has to move from being the conventional back-office to one that is more customer-oriented in its operational style. The CIO assumes the leadership of spearheading the change in the IT department for a new level of customer experience.

The erstwhile strategies revolving around vendor, suppliers and information systems have given way to a fresh, brand-new strategy encompassing shareholders and end-users of products and services. CIOs need to look upon technology in a different way than before. Today, leveraging technology is the differentiator. ERP systems, CRM and SCM should be designed based on the business processes, backed by an innovative mindset. For the CIO, the customer should take centre-stage in all strategy designs and plans.

The Human resources challenge

With all the Artificial Intelligence (AI) talk around about displacing human resources in various industries, they still hold a key in the organization’s strategic decisions. Good leadership shoulders the onus of attracting the best, suitable human resources and ensuring their motivation, satisfaction and enthusiasm. With developing countries stabilizing around the globe, employment opportunities have gone up– an estimated 2 million jobs are expected to get created –making it even more difficult to secure cream talent for your organization over the years. These challenges have forced the CIO to look beyond conventional motivation factors like salary, designation, good projects to more encouraging factors like flexible work timings, demanding projects, better career opportunities and regular performance evaluation.

A new definition of Business relationship

The erstwhile concept of business relationships is still valid today, but it is largely defined today by variable factors like technological innovations, a highly demanding business environment, ever-changing regulations and an optimum utilization of technology to meet business goals. The CIO’s challenge today is to perfectly interpret organization objectives and then utilize technology to support the achievement of these objectives.

The wave of digitalization that has swept across the world has made it imperative to relook at and restructure the IT department and the CIOs role in particular. IT is not be considered simply as a database storage server or hardware equipment or computer maintenance department. It no longer is to be only “aligned”, but “integrated” with the business and organization goals. Seniors in the IT department should be on the same page as strategy planners in the executive management, as far as the organization goals and objectives are concerned. IT should serve as an enabler and not merely a cost centre. Simply put, there should exist strong relationships between people with the same set of goals. In addition to this, CIOs should be also able to identify resources with strong innovative and leadership qualities who can partner with stakeholders in all areas to meet their expectations.

Innovation versus Cost Optimization

Today, the CIO is expected to perform the balancing act, which happens to be the most important challenge of the role. Some projects will demand a highly innovative spirit from the IT department whereas achieving cost efficiency might be the objective of another project. IT has to work hand-in-hand with different projects, which means that they have to shift gears as and when required– whether it be a conventional computerization of a legacy environment or an experimental project in a niche area.

Conclusion

The opportunity and challenge for the CIO today is all about agility. The CIO is necessitated to don many hats – Operator, Technologist, Strategist and Catalyst – in order to drive values in a way which business-oriented colleagues can understand.

CIOs occupy a unique spot: they create an opportunity to create innovative growth strategies for their organizations through a mix of business knowledge and profound technology expertise. Needless to say, the employed technology must provide an advantage and also meet the needs of users. Putting their best foot forward in these critical areas will enable CIOs to create the required impact on all stakeholders throughout the company’s ecosystem.