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CIOs: The Interface Between Technology And Business

technology and business

CIOs’ Roles and Responsibilities

  • CIO- the Chief Information Officer is the person designated as an in-charge of the IT system of an enterprise who acts as an interface between the information technologies and the rest of the business.
  • He is the one who handles the entire technology that is implemented to support and fulfill the organization’s goals and objectives.
  • In large organizations, the chief information officers usually delegate the oversight of IT operations to the technology assistant and rely on the team of experts to manage explicit areas of IT.
  • The CIO at one organization could have a completely disparate set of duties as compared to the CIO down the street.
  • Generally, the chief information officer is a high-level job in an organization with the responsibility of handling the entire IT system that supports the organization’s goals.
  • It is his job to innovate, collaborate, and motivate IT staff and balance the IT budget.

Transition in the Role of CIOs

  • The role of CIOs about two decades back was to focus on technical projects only. But in today’s scenario, they are designated as the key contributors in framing an organization’s aspirations because the storage, transmittal, and interpretation of electronic and digital information are growing in and across every sector and industry.
  • With the emergence of technologies and the adoption of automated software by businesses, the role of IT leaders has shown a drastic transformation.
  • Now, the latest IT strategies demand senior IT leaders be more skillful, have the capabilities to think and act beyond traditional technology management.
  • According to a survey in 2012- Role of the CIO survey– CIOs of companies who are designated as information technology leaders must possess data management skills, corporate financial skills, legal expertise, vendor and partner management, compliance expertise, project management, and expertise in security as well.
  • CIOs continue to wrestle with the drawbacks of finance contributions within the technology stack. Therefore, their struggle with manual processing with spreadsheets goes on.
  • The digital transformation is consequently increasing their strategic roles and responsibilities towards the organization.

According to IBM’s Global C-suite Study, published in 2014, companies at which the CEO (Chief Executive Officer), CIO (Chief Information Officer) and CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) work more closely and unitedly than with other C-level officials tend to outperform opponents. The CIO also has a close connection with the CFO (Chief Financial Officer) – that’s the strongest connection between CIOs and other C-level execs, according to IBM.

CIOs Embracing Digital Transformation

Since the role and responsibilities of CIOs have been increasing with the rise of automation and growth of businesses with digital transformation, IT leaders must have innovative thinking skills to develop new ideas. They should be creative thinkers.

Technology leaders should have capabilities to figure out the system’s problems, create and provide potential solutions, and skills to overcome business challenges. This ecosystem of creative minds goes beyond the organization’s firewall to think out-of-the-box.

The chief information officer of an organization recognizes that different vendor partners exhaust enormous amounts of resources acquiring customizable solutions to corporate challenges, many of which can be acquired on-demand through the cloud. These trusted partnerships are not just focused on big vendors only, they also have a mindset to work with their peers like the chief marketing officer (CMO) and the chief financial officer (CFO) and understand their agenda.

Organizations have been transforming all over for the last few years. The digital transformation with automation and bots are enabling enterprises to perform better and better in the competitive world.

The new digital era has enabled CIOs to be more focused on delivering more and more value to businesses with quick, reliable, and secure information and outputs. Organizations are proceeding towards best-of-breed remedies, designed to meet the needs of users.

CIOs make sure that their organization is collaborating well with the new version of the tech disruption happening across the globe so that they do not lag in the race.

Guide to Digital Transformation

As CIOs take initiatives towards digital transformation, they need to examine and analyze the present state, evaluate end objectives, and build a pilot strategy for buy-in from all stakeholders. Here’s how:

Analyze and Evaluate the Existing State

CIOs need to evaluate their organization’s present position and propose their strategies for accelerating the journey to stay ahead of their competitors. Here’s how:

  • CIOs should make sure that their organization is not an introvert and have a culture of openness. For this, they may need to play a leading role in building a trustworthy environment that can support the transparency it will get from the digital change.
  • CIOs also need to participate in the process to provide digital tools to enable open collaboration among business entities for feedback and direct communication. They need to communicate the non-sensitive information of the organization to the external users/consumers and business partners.
  • IT executives should take initiatives to deploy cloud-based applications in their organizations so that the company would leverage their potential in the digital transformation across all departments and can generate greater revenue with lesser cost. Cloud based accounting software enables a firm to manage their accounts and finances seamlessly and effortlessly. These applications solve the discrepancies of restriction-based access and location issues by providing remote access anytime anywhere, hence promoting transparency at both ends.
  • In the digital world, where smartphones are the complete computer system in your hand all the time, more than half of the internet users use this device for anytime access to their accounts. So, the CIO of a company should lead the way to deploy the transformation to ensure better access to consumers and their staff by making mobile deployment as a default strategy for new projects.
  • CIOs need to experiment and implement new methods to experience real change. They should coordinate with internal and external teams to develop a solution for the visible or invisible issues of the system and the organization.
  • The common aim of all businesses across the globe is to grow their list of happy customers. Every organization does its best to provide the best customer services. The customers’ perspectives should be on the top priority of every organization. CIOs, being the technical head of the IT and computer system of the company, should ensure that digital change is helping them to prioritize and their requested feedback is helping to reach desired goals.

Evaluate End Objectives

This is how CIOs can evaluate the transformational goals set by the organizations to check where the organization stands on the path to change and transparency does. Try to answer the following questions:

  1. Confirm whether business and IT strategies are linked or not?
  2. Does information technology system have a future perspective of the business opportunities and challenges?
  3. Check if overall budgets are satisfactorily related to the organization’s strategies or are based on outdated assumptions?
  4. Are executive-level synopses of spending and preferences fully collaborative?
  5. Are budgeted expenses evaluated against current actions?
  6. Check if the right people adequately understand the overall purposes and actions of the organization?

The answers to the above questions can help in evaluating the transformational objectives of the firm. In case the answer to any of the questions is ‘NO’, scroll down and READ:

  1. Your business and IT strategies should be linked so that all departments of the organization have a deep understanding and knowledge of IT’s efforts.
  2. If IT would chase initiatives that no one considers, business units will question where IT is dedicating its time and funds. So, the future perspective is a must for IT systems.
  3. Overall budget checking is essential as spending commitments will be out of sync with the velocity of the industry and may result in ruining IT credibility.
  4. If not, operating in a silo will come back and snap you once the value-based ROI conversation hits you off.
  5. IT will eventually be blamed for wasting its meaningful budgets in pursuit of outdated or contrarily irrelevant projects if the budget expenditure is not evaluated against current actions.
  6. The transparency for the wrong audience means efforts will be wasted and expected benefits won’t materialize.

Build a Pilot Strategy

A solid master plan is required to have a successful transformation. So, before making any effort, make sure to connect, coordinate, and be explainable to senior executives, board members, and line-of-business managers. Backing from the topmost levels of the company is a must to have in hand. Here are 5 steps CIOs should take as they proffer a digital transformation master plan to the company’s directorate and executive committees.

Step #1: Define the Change

However simple the word “transformation” sounds to all, its meaning to every business and industry is different and varies according to the size, type, nature, and expectations of the business.

To many, its meaning is usually left to assumption and guesswork. Being a CIO and the leader of technological initiatives encompassing digital conversion, it’s up to you to lead the conversation that drives a standard perception of just what the ‘word’ means, followed by the advantages it gives on after the implementation. The CIO should also make them consider the expectations and aims of the organization that can be seamlessly achieved by adopting the change. The more you can give clarity about the transformation, the more successful you will be in achieving your target.

This step is crucial for successful and long-term progress as it’s impractical to achieve any goal if it is not clearly defined.

Step #2: Define Your Funding Paradigm

Digital transformation can be a success for the industries having a growth mindset predominating over the fixed mindset. But, transformation demands upfront investment. Be vociferous in how you will be fueling the digital transformation. If cutting business spend is your funding paradigm, make sure your master plan describes it out. If rationalizing prevailing services/applications is your funding paradigm, be fairly particular on how and where.

Step #3: Use Customers’ Experience to Improve

Digital change is all about the customers’ satisfaction and experience from a new business model. But, the ultimate purpose is to make the business more approachable, easier to operate, and better than the rest.

Although it’s impossible to predict how much growth a company will attain and which processes will be automated, business units need to study the processes and the people who communicate with the business systems. It’s necessary to collect feedback from the users that can guide the moves you will make to put things in place. This can be done either by directly asking the consumers about their conclusions, pain points, and the changes they desire to see in the system to make their work easier and better or by observing how they work. This is essential for applying the knowledge in the implementation of digital processes so that it could make a difference.

Step #4. Assess Processes in Place

Transforming digitally doesn’t mean to revolutionize a firm. It simply may intend to be more incremental. That means it’s important to assess the current status of digitization to know what elements are already a part of the system. Some of these elements may continue to be the part of the company’s systems and may be significant to open-ended operations but that doesn’t indicate their compliance with the expected vision. Other elements are likely to be combined over time either by IT or by line-of-business managers to approach particular operational necessities. It is important to understand at this stage about how each element fits, whether they are appropriately addressing both current and expected future requirements, and how they can integrate with the more impressive view of digital conversion. The results of this study and analysis need to be shared, explained, and ultimately agreed upon, along with a strategy for including or excluding them from the final integrated system.

Step 5#: Set a Wide Schedule

Prioritization of tasks is imperative to accomplishing a plan of action. The development of such a big dimensional plan requires thought and support from all levels inside the organization. The overall plan should be presented as an update to conversations that befell at the initial stages of the digital transformation action, rather than presenting as a novel idea.

The idea of transformation of an enterprise to digitalization requires substantial effort from all segments of the firm. CIOs initiate the disruptive battle by apprising and obtaining support from top-level officials and putting their best to make this move successful and fruitful to everyone related directly/indirectly with the organization.  

“As businesses continue to grow and evolve and the CIO continues to seek workflow efficiencies, the transformation from manual to automated becomes imperative. Not just for the business, the talent it hopes to attract but even for the CIO”.

Organizations haven’t made it easy for the CIO. For starters, businesses have grown, acquiring companies, crossing borders, and mixing currencies. They’ve tried to avoid deceitful activities and keep systems secure. Businesses are demanding, to say the least. They even expect end-to-end financial reporting to be timely, accurate, and trustworthy. The cheek of it. And yet the CIO bravely battles on, focused on information systems and communication workflows intending to increase process efficiency”.

  • BY MARTIN KOTZE, PRINCIPAL SOLUTIONS CONSULTANT

Conclusion

Many companies today have been taking initiatives to adopt the Digital transformation and remodel themselves into more agile and transparent organizations that are helping them to build a trustworthy base for their clients. CIOs are motivating forces in controlling the processes and need to be contributory in monitoring their surroundings so that contingencies are appropriate for digital transformation to win.

Digital Transformation requires a rethinking of how businesses can be increased in all aspects along with a cultural perspective that considers transparency to build strong corporate relations among enterprises and customers.

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