Defining Carolyn Chin-Parry is difficult – a digital leader, transformation expert and change management specialist, housing more than 20 years of in-market experience.
Most recently, Chin-Parry added Woman of the Year to her CV, following the recognition at the recent Women in IT Asia Awards 2019.
Having spearheaded some of the largest transformation projects in Asia – spanning banking, insurance and government sectors, among others – Singapore-based Chin-Parry excels in blending global, regional and local technology requirements.
“I do not consider myself to be a technology purist, therefore my measurement of success in technology may differ quite significantly to many of my peers,” qualified Chin-Parry, when speaking to CIO ASEAN.
“I measure success in technology in its ability to enhance jobs so that workers can focus on value-adding work instead of manual, tedious tasks and also to improve customer experience and loyalty.”
Most importantly for Chin-Parry, the true success in technology should be to increase inclusiveness in society and the workplace.
“This means being able to use technology to help those with special needs to participate more actively in society and in the workforce,” she said. “This will in turn provide a number of potential benefits such as providing more people with meaningful work and improved quality of life.
“Also, improving a company’s employee experience and overall reputation, and increasing a country’s workforce productivity and economy.”
The CIO as a transformational leader
Most recently chief digital officer of Prism, Chin-Parry has held senior management roles at SMS Management & Technology and at KPMG, in addition to forming part of the cyber and digital committee at Australian Chamber of Commerce in Singapore.
“These days, an effective CIO needs to be a researcher, strategist and transformational leader who understands change management, especially stakeholder management,” Chin-Parry advised. “It is no longer sufficient to be only technologically savvy, but rather business acumen and the ability to work well with stakeholders to solve problems and strategise are far more important.
“A great CIO is a lifelong learner with good vision, excellent team leadership to execute and change management skills to make the digital journey truly successful.”
For Chin-Parry, it is no longer the case of simply managing back-end IT operations – the role of the CIO in 2019 requires much more depth.
“New technologies can be a game changer in transforming organisations where CIOs can co-lead with business leaders to future ready companies for Industry 4.0 [the Fourth Industrial Revolution],” Chin-Parry said.
“The emergence of new technologies and their constant progress means that the CIO and teams will need to be constantly keeping abreast of what’s new out there and assessing the relevance of new tech within the organisation.”
Despite acknowledging common challenges around limited budget, managing senior leaders resistant to change and a lack of digital talent with business acumen, Chin-Parry remained optimistic about the future opportunities ahead for CIOs in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region.
“CIOs have the ability to leverage on emerging technologies to transform the industries in which we operate in,” she explained. “From traditional business models to data-driven business models, where data in itself can be sold.
“Also, improving the quality of jobs with creating more meaningful work, away from tedious and mundane tasks, alongside crafting jobs through new technologies to include those with special needs and driving the ethics and governance of how things should work.”
How emerging technologies are impacting industries across ASEAN
Recognised among a field of 400 female technology executives, Chin-Parry is currently focused on strategising for the future of work, while keeping abreast of emerging technologies and business opportunities. This includes analysing the impacts of new technologies on governance, operating models, cybersecurity, workforce and industry relevance.
Chin-Parry cited robotics process automation (RPA) as the most “disruptive technology” of 2019 in the current market.
“While RPA is not the most sophisticated technology available in the market today, as far as job displacement is concerned, RPA has the ability to displace millions of workers in Asia,” she said. “This causes major disruption to a number of economies, where governments are finding it challenging to quickly retrain displaced workers with new skills suitable for Industry 4.0.”
With expertise of multiple industries, Chin-Parry shared an example of how emerging technologies such as digital transformation, artificial intelligence (AI) and the internet of things (IoT) are impacting sectors across ASEAN.
“Specific to agribusiness industry, many plantations in Southeast Asia are still ‘trapped’ in Industry 2.0 [the Second Industrial Revolution] with traditional ways of working that haven’t changed in several decades,” explained Chin-Parry. “Emerging technologies have introduced very exciting possibilities for this industry and some of the early adopters have seen tremendous results.”
For example, Chin-Parry cited IoT as a leading trigger of innovation through soil sensors to help reduce wastage of fertilisers, in addition to the deployment of drones which can help with crop counting and data collection, particularly during natural disasters.
“Using AI to help with predictive analytics and robust data which can in itself be sold to other industry players, going beyond just commodity sales,” Chin-Parry added.
“This injection of new technologies has the potential to be a game changer in transforming this industry especially with new operating models and attracting younger generations into what was once considered an ‘undesirable’ industry.”