CIOs need to be visionaries, otherwise they'll be tasked with handling the technology plumbing while their companies carve out new positions (notably the chief digital officer role) to handle the more exciting areas around transformation.
Don't let that happen, says Scott Strickland, Global CIO at Denon + Marantz Electronics, maker of audio and video equipment.
"If you're sitting with the business, product development, marketing and sales, and you're bringing to them the art of the possible, 'here's how we can use technology to do things differently,' then it's exciting. Then you won't be passed by or marginalized," he says.
Like other CIOs, Strickland says his IT shop has transformed over time by implementing a range of cutting-edge technologies. These ongoing investments, he says, have been instrumental in radically changing customer service and product development.
He points specifically to the rise of the internet of things. He says most of his company's products are now IoT-enabled, so when consumers buy them and boot them up at home, they're also able to easily register them. Because of that, Strickland says, the company now has a connection to that customer — a relationship that wasn't easily made in the past when customers dealt only with retailers selling the equipment.
Strickland outlines how IT, and IoT in particular, has transformed what his company can offer, pointing to a recent issue with a consumer product. One of its HEOS speakers developed a memory issue. Taking advantage of the IoT capabilities built into the speakers, the company was able to push a test out to all its products in that line — even those that were already sold and in customers' homes. This test identified some 300 speakers that needed to be replaced. Strickland says the company contacted the customers, alerting them to the issue and sending them replacements before the customers themselves ever experienced a problem.
In another example, Denon + Marantz analyzed data coming from its IoT-connected devices. Customers, when booting up their products and connecting with the company, have the option to name their speakers. D+M noticed that many customers were naming their speakers "bathroom speaker." Strickland says the company took that insight and developed a new wireless, compact waterproof and humidity-resistant speaker with that market in mind. Moreover, he adds, the company through its IoT platform could reach out to existing customers - all those people who had clued in the company on where they were placing their speakers when they registered the products — with the news.
"You take all of that together and it feels transformative. It feels like our business will be different, and it is different and it will continue to be different," he says. "There's the key. CIOs have to be able to say here's the new technology and here's how we can apply it to the business. You could be wrong, but you have to get the conversation going."
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