Around the globe, boards of every enterprise are concerned about the impact of digitisation on their company’s market position and ability to compete. Nearly 8 out of 10 (78 percent) of enterprises say that achieving digital transformation will become critical to their organisations within the next two years. Sixty-seven percent of CEOs will make digital transformation the centre of their corporate strategy by the end of 2017.
IT has been elevated from its traditional support function to being the backbone of the modern enterprise. Given their ever-increasing dependency on technology, CIOs must assume a strategic leadership role and drive change throughout the enterprise. While this might not sound entirely new, the extent of involvement needed and extra burden on the CIO’s shoulders have constantly increased. Almost 60 percent of CIOs have moved to the foreground and are now in regular communication with their boards of directors. Today’s successful CIOs transform IT by driving an agenda based on an in-depth understanding of business challenges and corporate objectives.
In this context, the following four themes have emerged to reposition IT and transform the enterprise:
Consolidation and Standardisation
Many enterprises still find themselves in a relatively heterogeneous IT environment with loosely integrated subsidiaries and country organisations that operate fairly autonomously. However, without a baseline for global process consistency and a coherent operating model, CIOs risk losing control of their own destiny. A lack of integration and the existence of fragmented systems creates enormous redundancies.
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When building central repositories for IT assets and streamlining the IT landscape across the various geographies and units, CIOs cannot just yield significant savings (greater buying power, economies of scale, etc.). Reduced complexity also helps achieve much higher availability and increased stability. In a highly standardised and well-documented environment, service interruptions can be drastically reduced. And should they ever occur, the chances are that these services can be restored at a minimal meantime to repair (MTTR).
In a digitalised world that operates 24/7/365, users have much higher expectations for ease of use and convenience. Today, IT services not only service internal staff – they have the power to allow customers to interact with the enterprise. As a result, offering a differentiated experience must be a core component of every digitisation strategy. The days when a lacklustre help desk and a public knowledge database were good enough are long gone. Word of mouth – both positive and negative – spreads quickly. Better user experiences lead to higher levels of loyalty and repeat business. Those enterprises that excel in delighting their customers will enjoy unwavering credibility and have a huge edge over their competitors.
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Innovation and Automation
The concepts and frameworks in strategic management are all about outsmarting the competition. However, the quicker pace of innovation in a digital world has made them harder to sustain and easier to duplicate. In the digital age, nobody can afford to rest on their laurels. Therefore, CIOs and their respective business unit peers have to constantly enhance the portfolio and come up with new features that enrich the customer experience.
Wherever possible, CIOs should ruthlessly embrace automation and apply a “zero-touch” mindset to shorten processes, preclude human error, lower costs and deploy new services in the blink of an eye.
Enabling New Business Models
Improving the user experience and promoting agility will enable new digital revenue to be generated. In a connected world, enterprises have the opportunity to capture and refine data from every link in their value chains. Since data is the “new currency” of the 21st century, new business models will emerge that allow enterprises to come up with entirely different value propositions. Rather than focusing on the bottom line of the balance sheet and lowering costs, CIOs need to change gears and devote their attention toward the top line, too. In essence, CIOs will be the enabler of data-centric business models and have the unique opportunity to serve as the growth engine for the enterprise.
The world is changing rapidly – and frankly, the challenge ahead is enormous. The task at hand means nothing less than reinventing the enterprise. CIOs should rethink their agenda and make sure they come up with a strategic roadmap that is well aligned with corporate goals and includes concrete deliverables, milestones, metrics and KPIs in line with the four themes outlined above. Setting the right priorities is absolutely essential to deliver tangible results and avoid getting bogged down in details.
More than ever, CIOs can and must play a pivotal role in taking the business to a new, more profitable place. Instead of operating in the background, CIOs can step straight into the spotlight by enabling the enterprise to monetize data and produce new digital revenue streams.