Technology is having a dramatic impact on the trajectory of businesses today. The strategic use of technology has helped companies such as Airbnb, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Uber to disrupt entire industries and gain a competitive edge.
But it’s not just these masters of market metamorphosis that are benefitting from the savvy use of technology to advance their businesses. Companies across industries are placing their bets on advanced technologies ranging from artificial intelligence to robotic process automation to data analytics and augmented reality to deliver unique customer experiences and carve a niche for themselves.
A central character behind these efforts are CIOs and technology executives who have a deep understanding as to how technologies can benefit their companies. But in order to execute on this vision, the CIO must partner effectively with the CEO and the Board to guide the enterprise to its future-state objectives.
“The CIO’s role is one that helps to foster a culture of innovation that can develop IP for the business and help to differentiate it against competitors,” said Dave Roberts, CIO at Radius Payment Solutions. “The CIO is responsible for helping to define and drive the IT strategy that ultimately creates revenue and top-line growth while transforming the technology that enable business functions to operate more effectively. It’s the responsibility of the CIO to align the business and technology strategies that can deliver the organisational goals and objectives. The CIO should take on the role of the CEO of Technology to help drive transformational change across their organisations.”
Roberts is a chair and speaker for HMG Strategy’s upcoming 2019 London CIO Executive Leadership Summit taking place on May 9.
It’s also helpful that while functional areas within the organization such as HR and finance are siloed, the CIO and the IT organization are not. “CIOs don’t sit in one silo -- we see what’s happening across the business,” said Tony Healy, CIO at Mobica who is also an advisory board member and a speaker at the upcoming London summit. “As every business becomes a technology business, we as CIOs can see how technology can be leveraged to improve the business and where process improvements can be made.”
The CIO can also be a leader in working with executive management, functional and business leaders in guiding the enterprise to its future state. “As all businesses are digital businesses, the CIO plays a critical role in working with the Executive and/or Board to get every enterprise to their goals,” says Graeme Hackland, CIO at Williams F1 Racing, who will also be speaking at the London summit.
One of the ways that the CIO can partner effectively with the CEO and the Board is by focusing on business outcomes rather than technology solutions, says Roberts. “The technology solution is a method in which to deliver a strategic objective or goal that can provide value to the organisation,” adds Roberts. “The CIO should be recognised as a business leader who understands how to leverage technology that can benefit the organisation while understanding and being able to articulate the financial payback of the investment. This requires the CIO to have the confidence and courage to lead and execute on technical strategies that can deliver clear benefit.”
In organisations where the CIO reports to the CEO and has relationships on the Board, it is much easier for CIOs to understand the challenges the business face and bring their skills, knowledge and know-how to bear, says Hackland. “In addition, the CIO has to be visible to all senior managers to ensure they have a direct relationship with the CIO and the CIO has direct visibility into their challenges.”
One of the ways CIOs can strengthen their relationship with the CEO and the board is by educating them on the art of the possible, says Healy. “But before that happens, CIOs must understand what the business goals and the business strategy are and then look at the pain points that need to be addressed before determining how technology can be leveraged and processes can be optimized.”
The CIO also needs to ensure that there is a strong working relationship with the CEO and that the Board values the contribution that technology can provide to the organisation in enabling innovation, says Roberts. “Technology should not be seen as an overhead but rather as a revenue enabler and catalyst,” adds Roberts. “The CIO should be able to demonstrate long-term strategic thinking but also appreciate the short-term tactical needs of the business. A technology roadmap should therefore take into consideration the near-term and long-term requirements that will help drive business revenue and create new income opportunities through innovation. The CIO will need to be able to pivot teams effectively to either deliver solutions that can quickly land and expand or ensure teams are empowered to fail fast when appropriate. Speed to market is critical to maintaining competitive advantage.”
In the end, innovation involves thinking about the business in a different way and improving the customer journey, says Healy. “It’s also about not being afraid to fail. That’s what innovation is – having the will to succeed. The first nine ideas someone suggests may not work but the tenth one may deliver tremendous value to the organization.”
To learn more about HMG Strategy’s upcoming 2019 London CIO Executive Leadership Summit and to register for the event, click here.