In the early 1980s, the role of CIOs was limited to managing resources in the IT department. But, with time, their role has changed significantly and today a CIO is the strategic partner who drives the organization’s innovation to generate revenue.
In a world that is increasingly becoming digital, the role of CIOs is taking the center stage within the organization. They are under increasing pressure to make their organization competitive and excel by executing important digital transformation projects.
CIOs are digital leaders and they have to challenge outdated business models by enabling digital ones.
The Digital Transformation investment is expected to reach $7.1trillion by 2023 with a compound annual growth rate of 17.5%.
As a result, the role of a CIO is now more of a strategist.
2021 will be the hallmark year for technology as CIOs have to understand the trends, overcome the challenges of the past year and leverage the opportunities to set the tone for the upcoming decade.
1. Managing Digital Workforce and Collaboration
Managing a digital workforce that is scattered across different locations could be challenging. Onboarding and training employees are not the same anymore. Moreover, providing access to employees from the open network has exponentially increased cyber threats.
CIOs must ensure that employees have all the necessary resources by their side, without compromising security. They must invest in remote training and onboarding tools to create a seamless experience for their employees which will not just enable continuous learning but also reduces dependency on the support team.
Since businesses are shifting towards digital, technical issues are on the rise and employees are facing problems adopting it. So, it is necessary to invest in a solution like a DAP to reduce the workload of your support team and also help your employees adopt new technologies.
Collaboration becomes even more crucial if the workforce is working remotely. They have to improve Coordination, develop Communication and cultivate Culture to achieve seamless collaboration. As the leader of IT, CIOs must focus on these 3Cs (Coordination, Communication and Culture) to enable collaboration and ensure remote capabilities.
2. Creating Digital Agility
As every enterprise is taking the digital route, competition in the market will increase at a rapid rate. To counter the competition, CIOs can opt for a quick way to push the project to production and roll it out as soon as possible.
They should ideally start deploying the project and could improve or scale it in the background. Meaning, while testing in the small group, they can improve the digital process and at the same time can scale it.
Most organizations are now moving from “doing agile” to “being agile” and there is a lot of roadblock along the way but once that is achieved, the organization will not only be in the position to create change but also adapt to change.
CIOs can help organizations to tackle the unknown, uncertainty, risk, fast-moving markets, and continuously changing norms.
3. Prioritizing Data for Analytics
Earlier, data was used to show the importance and impact of digital transformation initiatives to the board. As time passed, data played a vital role in seeing where & how the initiatives are shaping and what kind of results are being generated.
Since the advent of 2010, the focus on analytics has drastically increased. Consider a basic example that will confirm this. If you see Google's trend report it is quite evident that the graph has gone upward from 2010 to 2021 for the term ‘data analytics’ and it is not going to change anytime soon.
Even though CIOs understand the importance of data, there is still a lot of ground that has to be covered to make most of your investments.
As of 2020, nearly 36% of the companies don’t use all the data they possess, and approximately 50% of the companies are planning to deploy some kind of data analytics tool in the future.
Such delays are happening across industries and CIOs have this challenge to overcome and make most of the data in hand.
According to Gartner, companies lose $15 million on average because of poor data quality which eventually impacts the way analysis is being done. This, in turn, can result in bad decisions.
This can be overcome by deploying solutions that can ensure data integrity and help you with process compliance. Doing so will help you get clean data and also draw valid insights.
Further, it is important to check how your employees are onboarded post the digital transformation phase, because adoption is key to the success of your transformation initiatives.
To achieve that, again you need tools that can help you understand how employees are using the deployed technology and where they are struggling.
Based on the analysis generated by these tools you can create the training and onboarding strategy. So, rather than shooting in the dark, you would be in a position where you can guide the stakeholders in the right direction and get the desired results.
To summarize, let us reconsider a famous quote by Peter Sondergaard (ex-Gartner):
It is clear that the modern enterprise has to be a data-driven business and every organization should start accelerating towards this direction.
4. Ensuring Seamless User Experience
We just talked about data analytics and to create a seamless user or employee experience you need to integrate applications to make sense of what your employees do and how they utilize the deployed technology.
Unfortunately, most enterprises are not giving priority to data integration. It is important to note that only when you get information from multiple sources will you understand the expectation of your employees and could guide them in the right direction.
According to MIT research, businesses that invest in employee experience have double customer loyalty and 25% greater profitability than those companies that do not invest in employee experience.
Automation is another factor that can positively impact your employee experience. Most employees spend their valuable time on administrative tasks which they could otherwise spend on productive activities.
According to this report, 57% of the companies had already started with automation process in at least one business function as of 2019 and the other 18% stated to have done so by 2020. This clearly shows that CIOs are adopting automation. Although the companies took their first step towards automation, they still have to implement it across all the relevant business functions.
Practically, it may not possible to go all out, but the CIOs have to identify the mundane business functions. Once they identify it, they could automate those to help employees focus on high-value tasks that could impact the business directly.
Companies can start by trying within a focus group and if they find success with the automation, then can scale it. They can start by using a ready-to-deploy product like a DAP which could help them to identify repetitive tasks and based on those insights they can automate the business functions by using the DAP.
What Lies Ahead for CIOs
The IT world will become exponentially disruptive and being agile is the only way to attain success. Overcoming a challenge won’t solve a problem as there will be more challenges lurking around the corner. The only way is to face these challenges with an agile mindset, the right set of tools, and data insights to not only overcome them but also to create opportunities that your organization can leverage to stay ahead of the competition.