Tackling The Top 5 Areas Where CIOs Need To Deliver Innovative Change4 July, 2017 / Articles
The great business imperative of our time is to deliver innovation — in the products we sell, the way we go to market, the nature of our relationship with our customers and the way we run our businesses.
While innovation can be delivered in many shapes and through many channels, more often than not, transformative innovation today is delivered in the form of technology. This is changing the role of the CIO from a provider of technical tools and services to the very front line of innovation delivery and business transformation. As a result, attacking new markets and fending off competitors is more and more the province of the CIO.
When considering a CIO’s current responsibilities, there is no shortage of places to spend precious time and resources. In fact, CIOs often spend a considerable portion of their time dismissing ideas that, while intriguing, are unlikely to deliver significant returns fast enough to meet the shrinking window of opportunity in which they must operate. However, as the CIO increasingly plays a central role in shaping the future of organizations of every kind, understanding where leaders in this role should focus their efforts is crucial to success.
- Maintaining Balance
The top priority for current, and future, CIOs facing the headwinds of change is the need to balance, and rebalance, resources between traditional “keep the lights on” activity and actual innovation. It’s a topic often discussed and generally ends with the shaking of heads, glum faces and a grim determination to squeeze a couple of percentage points more from the usual 70-80% “sunk” spend in order to free it up for meaningful innovation. Such bi-modal or two-speed IT planning simply enshrines a losing formula for most CIOs.
In light of this realization, CIOs are increasingly looking to tip the balance in favor of innovation behavior by conceptualizing the value of technology that’s already firmly in the legacy list. Rather than spending precious budget to overhaul older systems, they are instead capitalizing on the value of existing technology, whether that is a result of connecting mainframe services to new mobile platforms or extending those same services up into the cloud to shift workloads on demand to the platform of choice at that point in time. By shifting investment thinking and planning, CIOs can operate in a more agile manner.
Next on the priority list is the continued need to deliver advanced security controls and governance processes. Global data privacy standards, massive denial-of-service attacks and nation-state hacking that targets intellectual property mean that the CIO must work closely with the CISO to focus on critical areas, recruit the skilled workers needed to respond to a highly complex threat landscape and still deliver more access to more data across more platforms than ever before.
The third focus area for CIOs to deliver innovative change is the looming tidal wave of the internet of things. IoT is likely to be the most disruptive technology change we will see in our lifetime. Yet without a clear sense of how IoT affects businesses and customers, CIOs will find themselves unable to offer the kind of strategic guidance to their CEO that will help them chart a course through the hype, missed opportunities and agile new entrants. The opportunities presented by IoT — to not only create entirely new classes of products and services but also to gather (and use) immense quantities of data on almost anything imaginable — will enable successful innovators to not just shake up markets but to fundamentally disrupt entire industries.
The future of business will, in many cases, be defined by software. Therefore, the ability to deliver that software faster, more reliably and predictably, and with a more robust end product, will be essential to businesses eager to innovate. The emergence of DevOps — in which the traditional lines between software development, testing, deployment and operations are blurred — offers the promise of better code, faster. DevOps practices (it’s really an entire mindset) have been employed heavily in startup companies as well as web and cloud service delivery organizations. But the opportunity in the enterprise is huge, and enterprise DevOps may be the most powerful competitive weapon software-based businesses can employ. While developers and the operations team will be most affected by this shift, it’s up to the CIO to navigate the strategy and arm teams with necessary resources.
- Digital Transformation
Lastly, the process of digital transformation should be firmly on the CIO agenda. Taking any business truly digital will enable you to chart a course that best leverages the above trends and opportunities. While some industries are heavily digital, especially the financial services sector, most are not. Unlocking opportunities to innovate in business will be defined by the ability to invest in the power of information, while the deep integration of information technology will be central to transforming businesses and capturing emerging markets. Therefore, the convergence of better data security, creating software to gather and utilize information more rapidly and with greater agility, and capitalizing on emerging technology, including IoT, machine learning and big data, must become the transformative CIO agenda.
While businesses around the world differ markedly, nevertheless, all enterprises will still face the same macro global challenges associated with changing customer expectations, accelerating market changes, and an increasingly complex risk and legislative landscape. Staying afloat and charting a course through the risks and opportunities of all the above technology trends will nearly, if not completely, redefine what the businesses of the next five years expect from the role of the CIO.