In the digital economy, enterprises are racing to reinvent themselves. Business leaders expect change to happen tomorrow and won’t negotiate on a longer wait. That demand is placed on the CIO to deliver results, and deliver them now.
There is great pressure on CIOs to think about the future, but also deliver on today: both from customers and internal stakeholders. This often means considering new solutions to adopt for cost savings, great productivity and a better customer experience, while still having to deliver a frictionless service with quick ticket resolutions across the entire business.
About the author
Adam Evans, Professional Services Leader at Rackspace.
It’s an incredibly difficult ask to balance all of these pressures and it can often lead to businesses being left behind by more nimble competitors.
Expanding the CIO role beyond a technology champion
The influence of the CIO has transformed with the race to innovate. Their understanding of aligning technology and business outcomes is increasingly critical to the success of their organisation, which in turn has elevated them from the IT office to the boardroom. Indeed, Gartner’s 2018 CIO Agenda report revealed that the duties of 84% of CIOs at top-performing digital organisations have drastically expanded beyond core IT management, with innovation and transformation being their prime responsibilities today.
So, the role is no longer just about computers, servers, and networks, but about the broader business too – becoming an innovation partner across the wider company.
Continuous innovation for customers and stakeholders
A big factor of all customer-facing businesses is to improve the overall experience for end users. Customers want more than just products and services. They want experiences. And businesses that respond with a supercharged positive experience ultimately succeed in the race for loyalty and customer retention.
Customer experience is now clearly at the heart of digital transformation, and in turn, digital is right at the heart of that customer experience. New channels are making those interactions more engaging and transparent, fundamentally changing the ways in which consumers interact with companies and brands. CIOs need to develop a holistic digital transformation strategy which can help the organisation transition from a ‘good’ service provider to an ‘excellent’ one.
Buying time by collaborating
Agility, speed and responsiveness is added to the mix of challenges for CIOs to grapple, not to mention the familiar theme of having to do more with less. This is perhaps one of the reasons why the typical tenure is one of the shortest in the C-suite – an average of only 4.3 years.
But it doesn’t need to be like this. Although the prominence, breadth and importance of the CIO role has increased dramatically in recent years and with it, greater expectations from business stakeholders, CIOs don’t need to go it alone when developing future strategies for change.
There’s another way to navigate out of the digital transformation storm – buying some valuable extra time to innovate in the process. In the case of digital requirements, you need specialists who can deliver services for end-to-end business and bridge the gap between the complexity of today’s technology and the promise of tomorrow’s.
CIOs should always be on the look-out for the right partners with whom they can collaborate and develop future strategies. It can be safer and more cost-effective to hire contractors rather than trying to acquire that permanent specialist expertise in-house.
In fact, research by Forrester Consulting revealed key lessons learned from migrating applications and workloads into cloud computing environments. It found that half (51%) of decision makers would have hired experienced cloud experts to help with those projects and 41% recognized the need to increase the assistance they get from advisory and consulting services.
By bringing in partners from the outset of a project, CIOs can accelerate the value of technologies to create a ‘safe space’, where they have the time and support to define the ‘what’ and map the ‘how’ back to the all-important question of ‘why will this technology help my business?’
Digital transformation needs strong leadership to drive change and innovate quickly. CIOs must adopt new leadership responsibilities, juggle shifting business mandates, and manage complicated technology transformations. With ever increasing expectations of business stakeholders, the pressure is on.
Working with the right partners helps CIOs buy critical time and support so they can deliver the right innovation for their business at the rate of change required. This will help digital transformation be seen as a continuous journey, rather than a short hurdle to be overcome.