Business Execution News BlockIn many respects, competition is good. It enables business leaders to monitor rivals to determine which of their business practices work and those that don’t. If one or more challengers copies business processes or practices used by your company, it’s more than likely a testament to what your organization is doing well.

But perhaps the biggest benefit of competition is that it forces companies and its leaders from resting on their laurels. In an era where disruption is occurring with increased frequency and intensity, organizational leaders not only must keep a close eye on emerging and traditional rivals, they also must seek to continually identify new sources of growth and to improve operational efficiency.

A Gartner study of CEOs and senior business executives bears this out. The study found that growth remains a top priority for 2016 and that technology-related change is viewed as the primary tool to achieve that growth.

There are a number of ways that the CIO can help the enterprise to meet or even exceed its growth objectives. One useful approach is by working with business leaders to identify how the use of digital technologies and digital channels can be used to generate new revenue streams.

For instance, automakers can offer new telematics-led services that provide drivers with real-time alerts regarding road and local weather conditions. A retail bank can use customer data to identify opportunities to offer bundled accounts to certain customer segments (e.g. packaging personal checking accounts with small business checking accounts where applicable).

As the CEO of Technology, the CIO is also well-positioned to identify and report on disruptive industry trends and opportunities to the CEO and members of the board. Collecting and analyzing industry data along with the use of data visualization tools can help CIOs and members of the C-suite to uncover hidden insights in data and to identify emerging customer or industry trends ahead of competitors.

A CIO for an electronics retailer can use data visualization tools with line of business (LOB) leaders to spot how a segment of Millenial customers are beginning to increase their purchases of appliances such as refrigerators and stoves. Company executives can use these and other information that’s been collected about this customer segment, including recent changes in disposable income, family status, and other characteristics to tailor customized targeting and offers before industry competitors respond.

Thanks to their comprehensive view of business activities and operations across the enterprise, CIOs can also identify opportunities for improving operations to help the company become more efficient.

For instance, silos that exist between a company’s sales and marketing functions may prevent the two groups from sharing and acting on timely and relevant customer data. Certain types of customer data – such as transactional data and customer behavior – is unique to a company and can provide sales and marketing leaders valuable insights that aren’t available to industry rivals.

The CIO must not only be the chief innovation and transformation officer for the enterprise, he or she must also be an adept marketer in explaining the merits of using technology to achieve growth, explained Jim Swanson, CIO at Monsanto in an HMG Strategy Transformational CIO video

“You have to talk about the value of IT and how you bring it to bear to positively disrupt and transform your company,” said Swanson. “All businesses are going to be digital and all businesses are going to use technology as a lever to increase revenue, increase value, and increase share.”

Key Takeaways

  • In an era where disruption is occurring with growing frequency and intensity, organizational leaders must seek to continually identify new sources of growth and to improve operational efficiency.
  • As the CEO of Technology, the CIO is well-positioned to identify and report on disruptive industry trends and opportunities to the CEO and members of the board.
  • Thanks to their comprehensive view of business activities and operations across the enterprise, CIOs can also identify opportunities for improving operations to help the company become more efficient.