The CIO’s 3 must-haves for creating a culture of automation innovation

istock 1212102699
iStock

Today’s chief information officers (CIOs) do a lot more than manage the technology that runs the business. They’re also increasingly responsible for building a culture of innovation that’s essential to thriving in a crowded and competitive market. And for a growing number of CIOs, automation technology such as robotic process automation (RPA) is the key to creating and sustaining that culture. RPA frees the CIO’s team—and the business users they support—from the manual, repetitive tasks that are a drag on innovation. It frees them to focus on the creative aspects of their jobs and discover innovative solutions to the challenges they face.

So how can CIOs foster an innovative culture across the enterprise and encourage an “automation first” mindset with “how can I automate?” as the first thought when an employee needs help to accomplish a task or improve a work process?

The three essential components are:

  1. Sponsorship: gain executive-level buy-in
  2. Strategy: plan for long-term integration
  3. Skills: reskill employees to support agility and innovation

Let’s take a closer look at each.

Sponsorship

A successful automation strategy requires the buy-in of everyone in the C-suite—not just the CIO and chief technology officer (CTO). The decision makers and budget holders must recognize that automation is essential to reaching their goals within their specific sphere of influence.  This requires the CIO to highlight the ways that RPA can drive improvements such as:

  • Higher customer satisfaction
  • Increased capacity to handle volume
  • More efficient product and service marketing
  • Increased customer engagement
  • New revenue sourcing

C-suite buy-in comes with another payoff. It encourages a bottom-up approach to automation innovation that sources great ideas from front-line employees. With the endorsement of their executive leaders, people from across the enterprise can explore how RPA can help them be more efficient and innovative in their day-to-day roles.

Strategy

Integrating automation into the fabric of the enterprise doesn’t happen on its own. CIOs need a strategy that clearly defines overall business objectives and how automation will get them there. One proven approach is to establish centers of excellence (CoEs) that select pilot programs to foster quick wins to demonstrate automation’s effectiveness—and create a framework for wider, disciplined deployment.

When people see what RPA can do, it creates the momentum and enthusiasm that begins to build interest organically and prevents RPA from becoming a one-off endeavor. Pilot programs help demystify automation. Individual workers begin to understand how software robots can make their jobs more interesting and fulfilling by eliminating the mundane and repetitive tasks that eat up their time. That helps lay the groundwork for a broader strategy that will drive widespread adoption and scalable digital transformation.

Skills

The prospect of pervasive automation and software robots can be unsettling for employees. They don’t always see how automation will make their work more interesting and fulfilling and how it ultimately benefits them. That’s why it’s so critical for CIOs to offer education around automation and provide the reskilling opportunities that will equip these employees to work side-by-side with their robot assistants.

Reskilling comes in two forms: providing employees the skills to build automations themselves, and coaching them on how to work effectively with robots in day-to-day operations. By helping employees expand their skills in these areas, CIOs can address the fear that “robots are coming for our jobs” and prepare employees for a future where automation will play an increasingly prominent role.

With this approach, anyone can become a contributor to a culture of innovation in which his or her insight and creativity get the recognition they deserve.

It’s an exciting new era for business—one in which automation has the potential to help CIOs play a transformative role in the future of their enterprises. Innovation is now inseparable from the technology that makes it possible, and CIOs can use their position to encourage the innovative culture that is now the key to sustainable market leadership.  To find out how you can transform business with automation, visit here.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.