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CIOs disrupt IT operating models to align with digital business

Clint Boulton | Feb. 15, 2017
Operational paralysis – failure to align IT with the business strategy -- can lead to a CIO’s demise. Sensing that, some IT executives have opted to disrupt the way they run their departments.

Salesforce.com CIO Ross Meyercord
Salesforce.com Salesforce.com CIO Ross Meyercord.

Meyercord also created a self-service search tool, called Concierge, to field thousands of questions a day from employees about human resources, payroll, Salesforce.com facilities and other services. "As a result, IT case deflection has increased 24 percent and overall cost of service has decreased," wrote Meyercord in a brief published in the Deloitte report.

Robots that watch and learn

While automation is causing some consternation among economists, CIOs are leveraging artificial intelligence to gain operational efficiencies. In 2015, Mike Brady, CTO for American International Group, deployed “virtual engineers,” codenamed ARIES, to help resolve network incidents. Leveraging machine learning, the co-bots operated alongside humans for 90 days, assessing outages, and determining probable causes and responses. Within six months of deployment, ARIES resolved more than 60 percent of outages.

The results forced AIG leaders to consider using co-bots to augment business operations, Brady said. “We want business to use machine learning instead of requesting more resources,” Brady says.

mike brady
American International Group Mike Brady, CTO for American International Group.

Unbounded IT and startup culture extend to healthcare organizations such as St. Luke's Healthcare Systems, which includes 10 hospitals in Kansas City, Mo. In true bimodal fashion, CIO Debe Gash is splitting her IT projects into two categories: run-the-business efforts and transformational activities.

The former includes maintaining the organization's billing and other operational systems while the latter includes activities such as upgrading the company's electronic health record system and creating a mobile platform that allows patients to manage their medical appointments, order food within the hospital and engage in remote "telehealth" consultations with physicians. The idea, Gash says, is to treat the patient more like a customer whom the healthcare system is trying to surprise and delight.

"It has really pushed us to focus on the services that IT offers and delivering those as efficiently as we can and then focus on driving value on the investments the organization is making," Gash tells CIO.com. "We think the value will come through the transformation work that we are doing."

Unbounded IT also means great changes to technology and vendor sourcing, says Briggs. Where CIOs once primarily purchased packaged software many have become "cloud brokers," picking new collaboration, security and other applications to rent from vendors. This is forcing CIOs to become much more selective about their sourcing strategies to make sure that the various SaaS apps can communicate with each other.

“It’s not about chasing every shiny new object; it’s about translating the raw potential of emerging technology into a focused set of priorities with measurable, tangible business impact," Briggs says.

 

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