by Charlotte Trueman, Cristina Lago

How to find and implement emerging technologies as a CIO

Aug 07, 2019
CIOEmerging TechnologyIT Leadership

Emerging technologies can be beneficial to your organisation but which ones should you look for?

emerging technology - virtual reality [VR] / augmented reality [AR] - virtual display / GUI
Credit: Thinkstock

The responsibilities of the modern CIO have changed dramatically over recent years. Instead of focusing exclusively on IT operations, the role is now seen as a strategic business position that is necessary for driving change and transformation within the organisation.

It’s evolved into one of the most dynamic executive roles, requiring constant development and adaptation to digital ecosystems, business model innovations, technology demands and stakeholders’ expectations. Adapting to tight budgets and focusing on internal operations are also now on the growing list of responsibilities handled by the CIO.

Pedro Sttau, CIO of iCar Asia, recently told CIO ASEAN that “the key focus for the modern CIO needs to be the creation of an ecosystem that scales people and operations the same way technology is built to scale.”

However, despite this renewed focus on the wider business, the CIO cannot neglect their responsibilities towards the overall IT strategy. Digital transformation continues to be the buzzword on every C-suite executive’s lips, but no one knows more about the importance of getting it right more than the CIO.

Digital transformation and emerging technologies go hand in hand, and CIOs need to pay close attention to what is making waves across the IT landscape. Technology should only be adopted if it has the potential to positively impact the business long-term, meaning a CIO needs to be discerning about what is actually beneficial and what is simply hype.

Here we take a look at some of the biggest emerging technology trends, how organisations are implementing and the inevitable challenges they bring with them.

According to a Forbes report into emerging technologies, CIOs, should be paying close attention to business and robotic process automation; artificial intelligence (AI); blockchain; cryptocurrency; Internet of Things (IoT); virtual/augmented Reality (VR/AR); augmented analysis; mobile everything; wearables; and cybersecurity and privacy.

Throughout Southeast Asia, three of these technologies have emerged as front runners. Support for Industry 4.0 throughout the region has caused a significant boost in the demand for blockchain, artificial intelligence and IoT, with a number of government initiatives coming into effect to help support and nurture its future development.

Both established organisations and startups based in Southeast Asia have already started to take note of how these technologies are changing the way people live, work and communicate and are looking for ways to implement them and mimic the level of success.

Although each of these technologies has its own benefits and potential to transform the enterprise, they also require additional training and skills which are not always easy to find, particularly when it comes to AI.

Furthermore, as many of these technologies are still in their infancy, what might be hailed as life-changing today might turn out to be nothing more than hype the next. Emerging technologies are continuously evolving, making it difficult for some to weigh up whether the potential risks involved with being an early-adopter will ultimately be worth it in the long-run.

How organisations are implementing emerging tech

Last year, Indonesian hotel chain Alila announced the deployment of Infor HMS for its operations, a cloud-based property management software.

Designed to increase business agility and to enhance efficiency, the emerging cloud technology system that exists is a fully-integrated service hub which combines enterprise power and a streamlined workflow.

Ajay Gamre, head of IT at Alila Hotels and Resorts explained why it is important for organisations to implement new technologies, in this case a shift to the cloud: “As we continue to grow as a business, it is paramount that our systems keep pace and integrate seamlessly together. For this, we wanted to roll out a true cloud-ready application that has a proven cloud delivery record in Asia Pacific and can scale and offer flexibility in integration.”

In Southeast Asia, technology leaders rank AI and machine learning among the most disruptive technologies of 2019, amid a digital revolution across ASEAN.

“AI has tremendous potential to disrupt core business processes and enterprise operations,” said Dr. Victor Tong, Chief Digital and Information Officer at National Gallery Singapore. “We are constantly exploring how to ride on this AI wave and transform ourselves into an AI-fuelled organisation in which machines could work together and complement our staff to enhance work productivity and deliver exceptional experiences for our visitors.”

Dr Tong said National Gallery Singapore has adopted an AI sales assistant that can automate sales emails for the company’s venue rental team.

“The AI assistant can perform intelligent conversations with potential customers over email, before handing over the qualified leads to our venue rental team,” he added. “This approach has helped to increase our sales conversion by over 40% in the past year.”

What are the challenges associated with emerging technologies?

While emerging technologies do provide clear value to the enterprise, implementing them is not without its challenges; the biggest being budget, training and approval from the board.

It’s no secret that CIOs are continually battling against tightening budgets, often having to make cuts to the IT strategy already in place. As a result, unless the CIO can clearly demonstrate the financial and business value that would be gained from investing in these technologies, the board can often be reluctant to sign off the proposals.

Additionally, not all board members are technically minded, therefore trying to explain the potential benefits of a complex platform like blockchain can often mean these proposals don’t receive the green light.

A significant lack of readily available talent is also hindering the efforts of CIOs to implement emerging technologies.

According to Gartner’s Insights from the 2018 CIO Agenda Report, respondents stated that the current skills gap means artificial intelligence as the most problematic technology to implement, closely followed by IoT and cybersecurity.

As a result, CIOs are not only fighting for the necessary funding to deploy the technology, they must also invest in training programmes to help support and nurture talent they need to get their initiatives off the ground.

While established companies like Huawei have both the money and the reputation to oversee an initiative such as their promise to help train one million new artificial intelligence developers over the next three years; smaller businesses and startups will have to start offering bigger and better compensation packages in order to recruit the talent they need.