The last decade has seen a dramatic shift in the world of data and digital. The number of customer touch points through digital means and the data created by those interactions has grown exponentially as well. CIOs who see their primary function as managing internal hardware and software systems will not be in a position to deliver the information that their enterprises need to grow and transform their businesses and create a delightful customer experience. In addition, the dramatic shift to cloud-based platforms and technologies is putting CIOs in a reactionary mode. The next generation of CIOs need to become masters of the data and digital domains to deliver on the promise of a ubiquitous customer experience.
Most IT organizations believe that increasing budgets to match the rate of change is critical to transformation. IT budgets are between three to six percent of revenues in most organizations. So why aren’t organizations able to create the transformations more quickly? The problem is one of thinking about the problem differently. CIOs need to evolve from the brick-and-mortar world of managing data centers, infrastructure, networks, and applications to creating a seamless customer experience aligned with enterprise priorities by becoming purposeful and precise in their strategies.
Requisites for This Transformation
The role of a CIO needs to transition from a service provider to a business advisor. Many of today’s CIOs are focused on running the business and some are focused on growing the business. But robust information technology requires that the CIO be focused on running, growing, and transforming the business at the same time. This requires the CIO to transition from an implementation and infrastructure mindset to an information and digital mindset. It is not good enough to think about applications as verticals; instead, a focus on the interoperability of applications to create that seamless customer experience is becoming table stakes.
The next-generation CIOs typically need to be adept at walking into organizations where their charter calls for delivering business value now. In simple terms: find the use case, build a minimum viable product (MVP), mobilize and deliver – all while continuing to focus on security, remediation, technical debt, application rationalization, compliance and stabilization. Examples of places to start can be Big Data, cloud-based services and models, alternative sourcing models, and service monetization.
The new digital and data mindset for organizations requires a culture shift for CIOs that has been the standard for CDOs. Most CIOs are operating in a traditional “build-it-ourselves” model that may have a bias for a project-based mentality, rather than an interoperability and value-based one.
Below are some the CDO tenets that can bring acceleration and agility to the next generation IT leaders:
- Business and Technology Leadership. CIOs will need to be much more involved in business strategy and product direction, as many IT departments are still viewed as a cost center versus a profit center. They need to start with bringing the “art of the possible” to the C-suite by painting a clear vision of the future.
- Adaptability to Change. The CIOs of tomorrow will need to deliver purpose-built platforms for change matched with data-driven actions. CDOs have been dealing with the rapid change for the last five years and understand that applications are not a means to the end; rather, the data from these applications integrated in a real-time context is what will drive business value and optimization. Data is the oil and knowledge is the fuel that creates growth and transformation.
- Entrepreneurial Mindset. IT departments should aspire to have a startup mentality to showcase the value of their budgets. They need to adopt a minimum viable product. This tactic gets a basic product to market and then learns quickly and directly from customers about what they actually need to evolve the product with new features. Most data organizations have little or no budget. Most CDOs have survived and thrived with this startup mindset and are adept at this change.
- Strategic Partnership. CIOs just like CDOs need to recognize that cloud, Big Data and managed services partnerships are not only critical but essential to maintaining an unrelenting focus on agility and value. Progressive CDOs have already created formal processes for partnerships to access technologies and ideas.
- Monetization Focus. The next-generation IT leader must not only understand rules of digital and data, but also that all companies will become technology companies. Being able to understand how disparate workflows between the company and its customers and suppliers can be integrated to provide the optimum business value is a precursor for external monetization opportunities.
- Customer Focus. Focusing on integrated digital customer experiences by creating an engaging, compelling journey through the relationship between an organization and its customers is a strategic differentiator for most organizations now.
- Human Capital. A strong IT organization with the right skills, knowledge, and experiences is the foundation for success. Some key skills that are essential ingredients for success are cloud, Big Data, mobile, interoperability, Rest APIs, business and system architects of the future. Above all, what’s most critical is creating a workforce that believes in continuous learning as a core admission criteria.
Is this a comprehensive model of where CIOs or IT departments need to move toward? Perhaps not, but this paints a picture of what it will take for organizations to be successful in rapidly adapting to the evolving marketplace. This will accelerate the transition of the CIO and their organization into being a transformative driver of a data- and digital-driven enterprise with unique and proven value among the other functions competing for mindshare and resources.
As Peter Drucker eloquently said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” Are you ready for the future?
This piece was originally published on LinkedIn by Vijay Venkatesan, SVP & Chief Data Officer at Providence St. Joseph Health.