floridaOur global economy has entered the Fourth Industrial Revolution—an era that promises widespread digital disruption and a breakneck rate of technological change. But are companies ready for Industry 4.0? According to a recent Deloitte Global report on how leaders are balancing the transition and capitalizing on advanced technologies to prepare for it, maybe not. Of more than 2,000 C-suite executives surveyed, only 17 percent reported that making effective Industry 4.0 technology investments is a priority for their organization, with a mere five percent indicating significant progress in this area.

Clearly, CIOs and technology executives have their work cut out for them. To propel their companies forward and position them for success in this new era, they must exhibit dauntless leadership, technological foresight, a willingness to look beyond their organization for inspiration—and a knack for garnering the support of the C-suite and board.

Lead with technology

Despite these stiff headwinds, forward-thinking CIOs are finding innovative ways to apply advanced technologies to boost operational efficiencies and reinvent business processes around their most important constituents.

At the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority, Marcus Session and his team are employing sophisticated predictive analytics to ensure seamless critical airport operations. “Airport operations are the heart and soul of our business, and we have a very small margin for mistakes to have negative impact on the guest experience,” notes Session, who is VP of IT Services for the Authority. “Predictive analytics give us visibility into trends so that we can get ahead of them. If we identify times that are historically busy or see a high number of planes coming into one area of the airport, we can proactively alert operations teams and partners (TSA, concessions, janitorial)—to adjust staffing levels.”

Session is one of the chairpersons for HMG Strategy’s inaugural 2020 Florida CIO Executive Leadership Summit taking place on March 12 in Championsgate, FL.

At Consulate Health Care, CIO Mark Crandall is taking advantage of machine learning to eliminate manual processes, improve patient experience and make internal operations more efficient. “Machine learning applied to our newly implemented Patient-Driven Payment Model (PDPM) is a perfect match,” says Crandall, who is an Advisory Board member for the Florida summit. 

“PDPM is the new Medicare payment rule that went into effect on October 1, 2019 for skilled nursing facilities, replacing the RUG-IV system with a completely new way of calculating reimbursement,” explains Crandall. “In order for Consulate to be reimbursed properly for the patient care that we deliver, logging data in Electronic Health Record systems becomes more important than ever.  We see machine learning as a way to alleviate some of the manual EHR auditing that is required in order to be sure Consulate is reimbursed properly.”

“We also anticipate that robotic process automation and machine learning will take a lot of manual work out of auditing Electronic Health Records (EHRs), helping minimize government claim rejection and ensuring reimbursement,” adds Crandall.

Don’t be afraid to dream big

CIOs need to be technological visionaries, able to spot promising technologies on the horizon. And Crandall isn’t letting today’s challenging times get in the way of looking ahead. “I’m excited about the prospect of computer vision, machine learning and natural language processing coming together. I envision a not-too-distant future where a practitioner can walk into a patient room, speak to them about how they’re feeling, and an IoT-enabled sensor will record vitals and patient symptoms directly into an EHR system—allowing the doctor to focus on their patient, not capturing data.”

Session has an eye on the future as well. “Biometrics is emerging as a major boon for the airport industry. Instead of physical boarding passes and IDs, biometrics and facial recognition will be used for efficient security and boarding—not only enhancing passenger experience but also enabling government partners like the TSA and CBP to focus on screening activities and ultimately, improve safety.”

To gain support, do your homework

All the enabling technologies in the world won’t gain a foothold without the support of the C-suite, and in some cases, the board. But attaining this buy-in isn’t simply a matter of walking into a meeting with a whiz-bang technology to sell, caution Session and Crandall. Rather, it requires that IT teams put in the work ahead of time to identify creative solutions to real business problems, and deliver the data to back them up.

Session and his team employed this approach in their recent e-gate pilot, automating the agent scanning process for more efficient boarding and passenger direction. “This project became a reality because we embedded ourselves with the operations team and listened to their issues,” he explains. “Then, we went to industry conferences and talked to vendors, and looked at what others were doing, airports—even Disney—because queuing isn’t unique to airports. By understanding how others are handling the challenges, we were able to come back to the business with a solution. Once you have the buy-in of the business unit, you don’t have to sell to executives because you have solved a problem that is disrupting their business. If you’re trying to gain support after the fact, you’re already behind the eight ball.”

Also, it pays to do your homework. “The key is to avoid applying technology for technology’s sake,” notes Crandall. “Find out what key metrics are driving C-level decisions—whether they’re delivering excellence in quality, growth, etc.,” Crandall notes. “Then, bring the data to show that your technology can move the needle on these foundations. If you present impactful technology solutions—and the data to back them—you have an irrefutably valuable idea.”

Three keys to building a culture of innovation

Another way to build momentum and support for the adoption of new technologies is to foster a culture of innovation. Because CIOs touch every part of the business, they’re in a powerful position to set the tone.

  1. Don’t make it about technology. “Innovation is a component of organizational change. You're trying to get people to change how they work and think, so they can apply new tools or processes with an open mind,” says Session.
  2. Define innovation. “People like to throw around the word ‘innovation,’ but you have to define what it means for your organization,” he continues. “Are you trying to innovate around processes? Identify better ways of working? It’s different for each organization, and there's no one right way to do it.”
  3. Bring your organizational insight to the table. “Of all executives, CIOs have the broadest view of the entire company,” Session adds. “Bring that knowledge to whoever is leading the charge, whether it be a Chief Innovation Officer or a director of organizational change.”

Look outside your organization for inspiration

In today’s global climate, change is the only constant. CIOs must continually keep abreast of emerging technologies—and capitalize on them to act quickly on shifting customer and market trends.

“I recommend that CIOs seek out and learn how technology is being used to solve problems in other industries,” advises Crandall. “For instance, hospitals are following the lead of other sectors and taking advantage of machine learning and computer vision to dramatically reduce the manual effort of analyzing radiological images and monitoring blood loss during surgeries. And in long-term care, population health analytics is helping us predict and recommend the best care plans for our patients.”

Session seconds that advice. “Our job is to be the tip of the spear, always looking at the technology landscape and how it’s changing. The key is networking, going to industry conferences and joining IT organizations like the Society for Information Management (SIM) or local technology organizations in your area” he urges. “Get out there and share your story. Because nine times out of ten, someone is facing the same challenges you are.”

Get by with a little help from your friends

As they navigate a sea of change, CIOs can be one another’s most valuable resource. “As leaders, we’re facing a key time,” concludes Session. “The role of IT is changing. We’re going from being the people who lay the groundwork to being the people who bring the value. We have to come together and find the best ways to adapt.”

At the upcoming HMG Strategy 2020 Florida CIO Executive Leadership Summit, CIOs and technology executives will do just that. To learn more and to register for the event, click here.