leadership-autonomiqFor CIOs around the globe, staying ahead of the accelerating technology curve remains a top priority. Between the $60 billion per year going into cloud infrastructure, the $20 billion being invested annually in business analytics, and the $50B+ dedicated towards CRM and ERP systems, it is clear that CIOs are investing heavily for the digital age.  

But building the capacity for innovation involves more than investing in cloud and BI - it involves applying the right combination of people, process, and technology to achieve sustainable business objectives. CIOs must have a culture that's allows for rapid execution of new business models, utilizes technology to augment their talent and unlock trapped value, and fosters a culture of creativity. And, most importantly, they must be able to execute.

So how can CIOs simultaneously cut through the noise of the emerging technologies while obtaining the buy-in they need to create a culture of innovation? By making high conviction bets on key emerging technologies and embracing platforms in open ecosystems, companies can build the infrastructure for innovation while being guided by a broader community. 

To determine which emerging technologies to bet on, CIOs must be able to understand the true cost of their current technology stack, the benefits the new technology brings, and the cost of maintaining emerging technologies in their stack. After all, CIOs need to lead courageously, not haphazardly. Knowing they cannot rely on their laurels, CIOs must focus on knowing what it takes for emerging technologies in their stack and remain maniacal in eliminating all the roadblocks that stand in the way of success.

Let's use AI as a sample technology to demonstrate how CIOs can make an impact. First, they must know exactly what they hope AI will provide, whether its predicting failures in machinery, identifying cancer early on in clients, automating redundant back-end IT work, or guiding autonomous vehicles. Next, they must ensure the talent, data, and required resources are in place to achieve their goals. For providing preventative maintenance on machines, teams must know the data set(s) they need to acquire, build the models needed to accurately predict which machines will fail, automatically send teams to fix the machine, and ensure they execute all before a customer raises a flag. 

The Need for Courageous Leadership

Why must CIOs be courageous in adopting a program like this? Often times, making changes like this requires an overhaul of existing processes, investment into new talent and new technology, maintaining the stack once its implemented, and ensuring it yields results to the bottom line. They must make it past the bureaucrats holding the keys to the kingdom while ensuring the project is fully implemented. 

If they don't have high convictions, they will end up with a half-implemented project that yields far less than half the results they proposed. And if they don't move forward with these efforts, the business will incur much higher maintenance costs as machines age and bear all the risks associated with reactive maintenance.

In juxtaposition to emerging technologies, CIOs can adopt platforms that accelerate the cultural boost they need to execute, maintain the institutional knowledge of the entire community, provide a common language for collaboration, and provide opportunities for out-of-the-box thinkers to be innovative. By working with open platforms that teams can build on, CIOs gain the benefit of fungible skillsets that cut across their stack, while acquiring all the tools they need to implement innovative solutions. 

Why must a CIO lead the charge in adopting platforms? Leading by example, CIOs can provide a clear message towards collaboration over empire building, deliver common building blocks for teams to build on, and ensure they have the support and knowledge in place to adopt future technologies. Although it might not seem mission critical, adopting platforms across the enterprise eliminates hurdles towards collaborating, creating a breeding grounds for innovation.

The decision to make high conviction bets on new technologies and shift the mentality of the business to platform thinking is no easy task. This requires CIOs to have in-depth knowledge of the business, an opinion as to which technologies are going to critically enable this success, and the ability to lead courageously. Should CIOs choose to remain stagnant, their business will continue to fight an uphill battle in an increasingly competitive landscape. On the other hand, the key enablers CIOs need are in place for enterprises remain competitive in a dynamic environment, and it's up to them to make it happen.