The role of the chief information officer changes as fast as the technology they manage. While once primarily focused on managing IT infrastructure and computer systems, modern CIOs are increasingly tasked with harnessing cloud technology to help their organizations move forward with digital transformation. Because technology impacts nearly every facet of the organization and customer experience, it can be argued that today’s CIO is now one of the most important C-level executives.
Yet the rapid evolution of the CIO has brought some challenges. The cloudification of technology has created an enormous volume of big data, a rise in shadow IT, an increasingly mobile workforce, and a range of other factors that CIOs need to navigate.
According to Gartner’s 2018 CIO Agenda Survey, digital transformation is among the top priorities for most companies, perceived as imperative to stay competitive and foster innovation. However, while 73% of the CIOs surveyed said their company was open to change, a majority also said that their company lacks a go-forward blueprint.
Here are four strategies CIOs can use to help their organizations accelerate digital transformation.
- Develop operational awareness. Effectively anticipating and responding to changes outside your company begins with a keen sense of the capabilities inside your company. With the power of cloud-based collaboration tools that track projects and resources in real-time, you gain a more precise understanding of where your company is performing at its peak, where it’s faltering, and how prepared it is for change. And by funneling all of the data into a real-time dashboard, you can quickly assess your company’s performance in real time and track trends to identify where improvements are needed.
- Collaborate, innovate, and create new opportunities. Under this new paradigm, CIOs are responsible for identifying and exploring new business opportunities, and selecting the technologies that make them possible. That starts by working closely with business leads across the company. Rather than focusing their time and attention on managing IT, CIOs must take advantage of the newfound influence and access they have within the C-suite, spend more time listening to the aspirations and concerns of their colleagues, and look for ways to not only support their goals, but also to create new opportunities — for efficiency, new revenue sources, and innovation.
- Develop situational alertness. Data analytics is a powerful tool for more effectively engaging customers and managing your supply chain. Analyzing structured and unstructured data sets can unearth emerging trends and help you adjust to upcoming market shifts.
For instance, data center services provider, Equinix, deployed an AI-powered prediction model that alerts the company’s sales reps when customers are at risk of suspending their service agreement. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, the solution makes its predictions based upon roughly 70 factors that contribute to a customer ending their relationship. In just a few months’ time, the solution has increased from around a 50% accuracy rating to nearly 90%.
This extra layer of intelligence enables Equinix’s sales reps to use their time more effectively in meeting the needs of 9,000+ companies that use the company’s service.
- Empower and enable the end user. For all the visionary, blue-sky thinking that’s expected of them, CIOs must not lose sight of their role as chief enabler. Employees entering the workforce have grown accustomed to using cloud-based apps and working in a more collaborative manner. Rather than forcing them to adjust their work style, you must take a more user-centric approach that provides them with easy-to-use cloud-based tools, These allow for greater access to the data they need to be productive, and empower them to help increase the pace of business. Choose a work collaboration tool that includes features such as automated updates and actions; these allow workers to get reminders before tasks are due, prompt users to provide updates, and automate repetitive work steps.
In expressing his own thoughts on digital transformation, SAP CIO Thomas Saueressig suggested that the key to success is, “delivering better experiences and more convenient, improved outcomes.” Embarking on the journey of transformation will help companies to understand the challenges that their customers face, he adds.
In the end, the role of the modern CIO hasn’t so much evolved as it has expanded. In this age of agile business, it’s up to you to help accelerate operations, the pace of innovation, and response to shifts in the market. With the right tools in place, you can empower your team to maximize its impact on the bottom-line and the company’s ability to compete.
Interested in learning more? Here’s the one thing CIOs must do better to stay competitive.