Driving Business Forward-croppedCIOs play an increasingly strategic role in driving innovation and business transformation initiatives. This helps explain why 79% of CIOs who were recently surveyed by Grant Thornton and the Technology Business Management Council say that IT has a voice in business strategy and business initiatives.

The acumen that CIOs are demonstrating as business leaders was on full display at HMG Strategy’s 2019 Washington, D.C. CIO Executive Leadership Summit which took place on April 30, 2019. But it also doesn’t come without its challenges.

“If we want to be digital geniuses, we need to rethink our foundation. “For Smithfield Foods, this includes creating more diversity in our workforce to get different ideas and fresh ways of thinking,” says Julia Anderson, Global CIO for the company and a keynote speaker at the event.

Of course, competitive pressures come into play as well. “Amazon has forced us to become nimbler and more responsive,” says Prabhash Shrestha, EVP & Chief Digital Strategy Officer for the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) who also spoke at the summit. 

Several CIOs and technology executives pointed out how they are using various technologies within their organizations to cater more effectively to customers and drive higher levels of productivity. “We use research data and analytics to understand the levels of livability in different communities along with social media use among people over 50,” said Amy Doherty, another keynote speaker who is SVP & CIO at AARP. 

Jim Walker, Federal CTO and Evangelist at UiPath, pointed out the value for federal agencies to utilize robotic process automation (RPA). “For federal agencies that are facing waves of older employees nearing retirement, I’d recommend exploring RPA and automation to address some of their work activities,” says Walker.

Meanwhile at Smithfield Foods, Julia Anderson and her team have been using blockchain to monitor and manage the health of its livestock.

In other cases, technology executives and their teams are leveraging technology to create added value for customers. “We’re using machine learning to combine satellite data from NOAA with our own data to provide value to our customers,” says Curtis Generous, CTO & VP of Engineering at Earth Networks. 

Developing the Team of the Future

Of course, in order for CIOs to drive innovation and foster business transformation effectively, they need IT team members with the right skills and business acumen. 

These include the soft skills that are needed by IT team members to communicate effectively with their business peers. At AARP, “We’re holding a full day of discussions on storytelling for our IT team because it’s so important to draw an emotional connection to what we’re doing,” says Doherty. 

These types of high-level insights that were shared – along with the interactive networking that took place at the summit – brought strong endorsements on the value of the event from many of the participants.

“This is the best CIO event in the Washington, D.C. area,” says Joe Malfesi, Outreach Chair for the SIM Capital Area Chapter who is also Vice President, Operations at Transaction Network Services, Inc.

To check out other upcoming CIO Summits, click here.