business-customer-successIn my column last week, GE CIO Jim Fowler raised an interesting point about the need for CIOs to create teams with the talent and creativity to build systems for machine learning, augmented reality and artificial intelligence.

I've been thinking about Jim's observation, and I want to spin it around into two direct questions for CIOs everywhere: 

  1.  Are your IT teams ready to help the enterprise build the customer-centric systems that will carry it into the future?
  2.  Have you assembled the right mix of talent and brilliance to compete successfully for customers in highly turbulent markets?

From my perspective, machine learning and artificial intelligence are increasingly seen as essential capabilities. In a world of big data, you need the tools and techniques for sensing patterns and following the money. As an industry, we've moved way beyond systems of record - we're expected to deliver predictive intelligence to the enterprise. As CIOs, our roles have evolved from order-takers to trusted business partners. The C-suite looks to us for actionable intelligence that can be leveraged and turned into better business decisions, quickly and consistently.

Providing that level of service to the enterprise involves cross-functional, interdisciplinary teams of developers, designers, business leaders and marketers. There are lots of moving parts in the modern enterprise - too many for any single building or campus. Your employees and contractors are spread across the world, living and working in different cultures, countries, regions and time zones.

Great CIOs understand that achieving success in modern markets requires a well-orchestrated series of "all hands on deck" maneuvers - everyone is involved and everyone works together to achieve a common goal. The 21st century IT department extends across the enterprise. It's an integral, indispensable and absolutely central element of the modern global supply chain.

The winds of change are transforming our world. You simply cannot succeed in business today without a steady hand at the tiller. As I've said before, the modern CIO is ideally positioned to provide the stability and guidance that are essential for successful global business strategies. What's your opinion?