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New business ask is changing role of CIOs: S. Srinivasan

Team CIO India | Sept. 2, 2014
CIOs are forced to move beyond keeping the lights on and focus on innovation.

S. Srinivasan,Sundram Fasteners

"CIOs have to take a practical approach between extremes and work out acceptable compromises. This is where creativity and innovation play a part," said S. Srinivasan, CIO of Sundram Fasteners

CIO: The business ask from IT has changed in the past-half decade. Are CIOs equipped to handle the response adequately?

 S. Srinivasan:This phenomenon of changing CIO roles is not new. In the last few decades, technology has continuously gyrated and changed the balance. The mainframes of the 70s, the desktop of the 80s, client servers of the 90s, vanilla ERPs of the millennium, and CAMS of the day have changed power centers continuously. Creative CIOs who could adapt survived and will continue to survive.

Today, due to various reasons, the shift is towards users who are now proactively coming up with IT solutions and suggestions. The generation today is tech savvy and hence does not entirely rely on IT to come up with solutions. Technology has opened up possibilities, such as the cloud, wherein there are options to circumvent or overtake the IT department both in speed and cost. The problem lies in educating the users on possible pitfalls, identifying possible outcomes that could be tangential to corporate goals, and coming up with workable solutions. Those who are able to quickly fulfill this role will be able to deal with the new order. This calls for a holistic grasp of IT and business.

CIO: How do you plan for the flux and the dynamism that marks the business environment today?

Time cycles to execute business operations have shortened due to changes in market conditions, legislations, internal capabilities, and the like. There is a need for speed. IT folks can meet this challenge in many ways. One way is to be clued in to the business, so that IT is able to sense developments before or as they occur. For example, IT can start putting in place mechanisms to deal with GST (goods and services tax)-when it is implemented--and gain time, so that the implementation will be instantaneous if the law is passed. 

CIO: How can CIOs transition from building efficiencies to building effective outcomes?

With technologies becoming advanced--such as having more transaction efficient servers, power efficient cooling, and fail-safe connectivity--emphasis will be on getting business results rather than keeping the lights on. Technology that can provide end results will matter. CIOs who can deliver the extraordinary through innovation and imagination with will score over those who deliver average outcomes with outstanding technology. CIOs must shift their focus more intensively towards operations rather than technology.

CIO: Another balancing act is about prioritizing LOB goals while taking a holistic view of enterprise needs. Isn't there an inherent conflict here?


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