What separates companies such as Google and Uber from others in the market? Both of these organizations and other companies with disruptive business strategies have successfully identified inefficiencies and opportunities in specific industries. They've applied innovative approaches to using data and leveraging technologies to introduce revolutionary business models that have attracted customers.

Despite the many challenges that CIOs face in their current roles, there’s never been a more exciting time to be an IT leader in business. Companies across all types of industries – including financial services to retail, healthcare, and entertainment – are continuously introducing novel business plans.

This bold, new world is creating incredible opportunities for CIOs. Some IT leaders have been able to leverage their technological acumen and business savvy to work side-by-side with other C-level executives to craft cutting-edge service offerings and innovative economic models. Others have branched off on their own and are reigning over new businesses.

There are several ways that CIOs can bring value to their organizations and help the enterprise achieve competitive advantage.

One “advantage” that every company has over its competitors is unique information that’s been gathered about its customers. This includes transactional and behavioral information that is exclusive to your organization, such as the products and services a customer has purchased from your company and the sentiment they’ve shared about their product ownership and experiences in their interactions with the company.

To leverage this data, CIOs can describe to business leaders how analytics tools, marketing automation, and other technologies can be used to identify who the company’s most profitable customers are, which customers offer the greatest untapped potential value, and to create messaging and offers based on the next best action to be taken with a particular customer. Customer data and analytics can also be used to identify hidden market opportunities, such as new products or services being asked for by customers.

Analytics and other technologies can also be used to identify potential business opportunities with existing customers, potential customers, and even in new markets. For instance, sentiment and behavioral information shared by customers can help executives for a hospitality company identify an opportunity to offer new types of vacation packages to high-value customers not being offered by rival companies.

CIOs also have a unique view across a broad range of a company’s functions and operations. These distinctive insights can be used by IT leaders to offer recommendations on new business opportunities that might not be visible to other leaders in the company who may either be laser-focused on their own line of business or on their own functional area of responsibility.