by Paige O'Neill

CIOs: Stop talking about tech, start talking about value

May 02, 2017
Data CenterIT Leadership

CIOs need to focus on technology not for the 'cool factor,' but because it can create a better employee experience and create value

cio on board
Credit: Thinkstock

Remember scrambling like mad for new technology?

I know people who camped out overnight to secure their place in line for the latest version of a smartphone. Others significantly overpaid or added their names to pre-order lists months in advance—just to make sure they had the most up-to-date device. When the iPad2 was released back in 2011, some stores sold out within 10 minutes even though it was estimated that 60 percent of consumers purchasing the tablet already owned the original version launched only the year before. 

In many ways, we’ve moved past those kinds of feeding frenzies. Now that we’re all inundated with electronic gadgetry, it appears we’ve developed a healthy skepticism. Technology is no longer as prized just because it’s new. Instead, new technology is prized when it’s useful, when it can somehow better our lives.

That same pragmatism is starting to prevail in the workplace. Employees don’t want new office equipment simply because the technology is edgy or trendy. They want new office equipment when it’s clear the technology can help them improve performance and be more productive.

CIOs need to recognize this shift. They need to focus on technology not for the “cool factor,” but because technology can create a better employee experience. In other words, today’s office technology must be viewed through the lens of creating value.

How does technology create value?

First, let’s agree that value is the result of increased productivity. Then, let’s take a look at what impacts productivity. In today’s complex, global marketplace, I think the answer is obvious: Productivity is derived from collaboration, from being able to do your best work with others, wherever they are—whether you’re separated by an office wall, an office building or an entire ocean.

That progression from technology to value might sound simple and straightforward, but this is precisely where many (if not most) workplaces are missing the mark. At work, we’ve all become accustomed to collaborative technologies such as email, conference calls and digital whiteboards. But these conventional approaches are no longer as effective as they used to be. Why? Because now employees must connect in different, more complicated ways.

Specifically, context and access matter much more than they used to, and in order to be most useful, collaboration tools must be able to leverage a variety of different inputs—content, voice, video—simultaneously and across any device. Without the technology that allows for this kind of teamwork, employees aren’t able to effectively do their jobs—and productivity suffers.

If you’re a CIO who realizes it’s time to become less technology-oriented and more business-oriented, there are steps you can take today. First, recognize that upgrading to a digital workplace won’t happen overnight. Take time to build a solid business case so you can get the support you’ll need. In addition, remember to keep your focus on value. There’s no denying that the lure of new technology can be difficult to resist. But when that new technology creates true business value—when it delivers concrete benefits because employees are empowered to collaborate and do their best work together—you’ll unlock a whole new level of “cool.”