by Divina Paredes

Kiwi firms see CIOs as top contenders to lead all digital initiatives in 3 years

Nov 13, 2015
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PwC: ‘Find a problem, rapidly prototype and test with customers. Next week do it all again.’

Today, only about 16 per cent of New Zealand businesses say their CIOs lead all digital enterprise investments and efforts, including innovation and market-facing initiatives – but this will change in three years, says PwC.

PwC says in three years, 58 per cent of enterprises will see their respective CIOs taking the lead across all digital investments,based on the New Zealand results of PwC’s latest global Digital IQ Survey.

“What I find really interesting is that this is different from the global figures,” says Greg Doone, digital strategy and data leader at PwC New Zealand. Globally, 40 per cent of the companies worldwide say their respective CIOs are already leading the digital programs. In three years, when the New Zealand figure is to “skyrocket”, the figure for their global counterparts doing this role will drop to 36 per cent, says Doone. “What it tells me is a lot of New Zealand organisations are considering that the CIO is potentially a prime candidate for taking on that wider CDO operation,” says Doone.

Greg Doone, PwC: ‘Work with customers on the ground.’

Doone was referring to the three options respondents were given on where they see the CIO role in three years.

The first is leading all enterprise wide digital investments and efforts including innovation and market facing opportunities, or a “CDO type role”, says Doone. The second is leading all internal IT efforts including innovation which Doone calls “an extended CIO role”. The third is leading internal IT efforts only, with little or no ownership or influence over either innovation or marketing facing digital efforts. He says CIOs that will be “well-positioned” for the first role have a “genuine understanding of human centred design and the practice of customer centricity”. They do rapid prototyping sprints, test early prototypes, have a lean product development cycle, as well as Agile and a true lean teams, he says. “They work with customers on the ground.”

In three years, 58 per cent (compared to the current 16 per cent) of Kiwi firms see their CIOs taking the lead across all digital investments.

“If they don’t and they are more what I would call more traditional keep the lights on, risk averse CIO, then I think it would be harder for them to convince the leadership they will be able to adapt to that sort of dynamic of working because it is a very different pace,” says Doone. “I would suggest they start running some rapid prototyping type activities with customers directly,” he says when asked how CIOs can prepare for this role. “Start looking at how they can develop that rapid release, rapid improvement customer centred product development. It all comes down to how agile the organisation is and how they can stimulate that. “What we find is there is nothing stopping an existing CIO function, no matter how traditional their waterfall business is,” to start doing this. These CIOs would say, “Let us find a customer problem, let us spend a week prototyping a solution and roll it out the following month.” He says this does not mean the whole technology organisation should work this way, but this activity should be part of how it works. “It will infuse that genuine customer-led thinking into the business.”

He says building an “innovation hub” is one way to meet this goal, but organisations need to make sure the innovation hub does not become “a year-long project”. “I could not stress more that you should ‘start by starting’.” “Find a problem, rapidly prototype and test with customers. Next week do it all again,” he says, quoting one of PwC’s 5 steps to building the organisation’s Digital IQ.

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