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Transforming the role of CIO for the Digital Enterprise

Suhas Kelkar, Asia Pacific Chief Technology Officer at BMC Software | June 8, 2016
CIOs today need to ensure every experience with IT is an intuitive one and completely adapted to the people that are consuming them.

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

Digital transformation is a foregone conclusion for most, if not all, businesses. The continued consumerisation of Information Technology (IT) combined with the exponential consumption of cloud-based services and applications continue to challenge even the best IT organisations.

According to IDC's Digital Transformation MaturityScape, enterprises go through five different stages before they can be considered "digitally transformed." At one end is the "ad hoc" stage, where business and IT digital initiatives are disconnected and poorly aligned, to the "optimised" stage, where the business is aggressively disruptive in the use of new digital technologies and business models to affect markets. These so-called "Digital Disruptors" enjoy a clear feedback loop and their businesses remake existing markets and create new ones to their own advantage, making them fast-moving targets for competition.

Yet, while enterprises in Singapore are working towards the optimised stage, not many would consider their companies as "Digital Disruptors."   

CIO Challenges from Digital Transformation

Firstly, third platform technologies including mobile, social business, cloud, and big data and analytics (BDA) complicates IT processes. CIOs need to recognise that innovation at the lowest levels can have a profound impact. For example, Sanofi invented a device to test for blood sugar levels. While it was originally intended to benefit 10,000 customers, the IT department of Sanofi is now having to support millions of end customers due to the success of this nifty invention. There are huge implications of supporting new services - if businesses are not careful, end-user experience will deteriorate and ultimately the brand will suffer.

Secondly, "innovative" ideas go through different levels of approvals, requiring that the CIO works with different stakeholders. While having good governance in an organisation is beneficial, it also makes digital transformation cumbersome, and companies less agile. However, the trend toward other business leaders making more decisions about IT spending is accelerating faster than CIOs have anticipated, highlighting the need to collaborate more with their counterparts. When speaking to representatives from the financial industry, we found that governance had a huge impact on CIOs' transformative work. A good case in point was when trading was halted on the New York Stock Exchange in July 2015. It was caused by a mandatory software update which was part of a compliance initiative that required all communications to be timestamped. 

Having said these, what role does the CIO play in moving digital transformation from "ad-hoc" stage to "optimised" stage? How can CIOs act immediately?

Role of CIO in digital transformation

CIO Magazine's 15th annual "State of the CIO" survey, concluded in January 2016, found that CIOs spend 45 percent of their time focusing on transformational efforts. This seems accurate given the CIO's role is to increase business productivity and innovation through the use of technologies and streamlined IT processes.


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