Transformative CIOs are a busy lot these days. As technological renovation takes place across business verticals, CIOs are moving from just being functional leaders to strategic business spearheads. They are no longer busy embellishing C-suite strategy meetings but rather donning the hat of a change agent and creating enough value proposition by embracing various cloud, AI and hyper-automation solutions.
Companies that are fast adopting agile business methodologies and banking on superior trends like artificial intelligence, data analytics and cloud in critical business functionalities need leaders at the helm of affairs that champion the cause of technological changes to drive business. They need CIOs with business acumen to ensure that their transformative agendas are laid down in a linear fashion, are dynamic thus allowing teams in action to manage resources, control savings and track progress.
Quintessential departure from textbook CIOs
The modern-day CIO is an amalgam of business strategists, technologists and an agent of transformation. In fact, the ongoing pandemic is all but a key reminder of the importance of CIOs ever-evolving and expanding role. Suddenly without even a false alarm, the CIOs had to go through a re-incarnation of roles and wisdom. A sense of urgency tremored across board room discussions and CIOs were the ones expected to lead the battlefront. They had to quickly adapt to and reinforce the new normal that is “disruption”.
CIOs of today have to lean into this reality and leverage the organization’s innovation capacity, technology and reach to make an impact in today’s increasingly competitive tech-driven business landscape. Having said that, technology is the least of their challenges, heralding visible transformation in people management and processes is now a priority to fundamentally change business performance.
CIO’s – Still very much the agent of transformation
CIOs are still one of the primary agents that drive various digital transformation initiatives, from data protection strategies to tech needs and IT skills assessments to change management and data management strategies. Gartner maintains that in this year, CIOs along with tech executives must gear up to operate in a more disruptive environment by making their enterprises more composable based around 4 key principles—
A composable architecture ensures that a business can withstand sudden market fluxes, is resilient and flexible to new business adaptations. The new CIO is expected to be a driver of composable business propositions and help the company pivot to a more modular and configurable setup for multiple future realities.
Tech transformations often are implemented in organizations in a non-cohesive and disjointed manner which impediments promising endeavors. This is where the role of the CIOs becomes central as the onus of creating common platforms and capabilities for the company at large falls squarely on them. Along with product leaders, CIOs must ensure that tech transformations are holistic and geared towards creating impactful customer experiences. There has to be a concerted effort to reduce data silos, streamline operations, empower the talent pool, foray into new markets, mitigate costs and very importantly, ensure the best of customer service.
Not just about tech, it’s about placing humans at the center of agendas
CIOs need to re-imagine the organization as an intelligent enterprise. They should adopt an approach that can readily shift from a static to a flexible and scalable nature. The focus should ideally be on agile operating models and creating a digital workforce that can ramp up critical business models. Take, for example, Artificial Intelligence— one of the fundamental gaffes which a CIO makes is not rationalizing beyond automation when it comes to AI. By taking this static approach, the chances of greater personalization and augmentation of human decision-making are often missed.
As CIOs embark on their respective digital transformation journeys, every step must be with humans at the center of change. They cannot just be business evangelists and technologists in their own right but also incisive people leaders. To be an agile business enabler, CIOs must build a culture of harmonious existence with various stakeholders and even more so with CHROs. CHROs can help CIOs find ways to optimize the available talent thus paving the way for a future-ready workforce. They can work in tandem to identify impediments that stare at the face of organizational structure. This is how you build an effective change management strategy for impactful business outcomes.
Ted Colbert, CIO of Boeing once said, “I want to be a catalyst for change. I want to have established the foundational capabilities that will help senior business leaders harness the power of digital analytics to better deliver on their objectives. Then I can step back and watch take-off.” While the ongoing pandemic has put too much on the CIOs’ table, this volatile environment has also tasked them with a chance to bring out their true grit as a leader.
It is probably the best time for new-age CIOs to introduce new technology fronts and enable their robust implementation. A brilliant time to embrace agile approaches and drive collaboration on technology and business. By challenging the status quo, CIOs can embark on business propositions and technologies to achieve things faster, cheaper and easier than before thus paving the way for a truly transformative organization.
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Author: Max D’Costa | Digital Customer Experience