How the CIO can drive digital innovation

The IT department is taking centre stage as a key innovator within the business, as the adoption of technologies such as cloud, IoT and big data analytics grows.

The IT department is taking centre stage as a key innovator within the business, as the adoption of technologies such as cloud, IoT and big data analytics grows. 

Line-of-business teams see new competitors innovating through technology and are asking for help from the already stretched IT department. CIOs are under pressure to do more with less, and the gap between what is expected of IT departments and what they can deliver continues to grow in the era of digital transformation.  

Forward-looking CIOs must rethink how they make best use of their IT capabilities and infrastructure to deliver more business value. This means changing the view of what IT is for, and finding new ways to better align IT functionality with business needs. It also means restructuring internal processes and tools to deliver more flexible hybrid services and applications. 

Here are a few top tips to help CIOs overcome the hurdles of a digital transformation journey.   


ONE: Align with business

IT needs to improve the way it interacts with the rest of the business. Often, CIOs and other IT leaders are typecast as the bits-and-bytes guys who keep servers running.

A good way to start is to identify decision makers within the enterprise who are committed to technology-driven transformation. Make it your mission to work closely with them, helping them define a roadmap, and set goals around business transformation rather than traditional technical metrics.


TWO: Assess company applications and workloads

To give itself budgetary headroom, the IT department needs to find creative ways to deliver the business-as-usual IT elements more efficiently.

The CIO must carefully consider what the realistic roadmap is for delivering new technology-driven business processes to end users or technology-enabled services to customers.

If IT really wants to account for true usage of technology workloads that the business depends on – both approved and those in the fringes of SaaS-enabled shadow IT – the CIO has to work fully in concert with the business.


THREE: Make new infrastructure delivery decisions

Deciding what stays on premise and what works in a more efficient cloud hosting environment will take constant adjustment from business and technical standpoints, testing  the IT department’s working relationship with its service provider.

In order to transform the IT function from an internal systems builder to that of a service provider, it will have to develop new understanding of procurement and management.


FOUR: Manage bottom-up and top-down

Evolution means not only fostering an efficient mix of external cloud services and internal capabilities, but also working closely with the business to continually deliver new applications and services based on the changing mobile and social digital environment.

This will take incremental steps, pilot projects and small wins to spur on the cultural changes necessary. Most importantly, it requires IT to address problems from both an interpersonal standpoint and an engineering point of view. For example, a pilot project may require developers, marketers, operations and security staff to develop collaborative processes to work better together.


FIVE: To change others – first change yourself

The CIO will play a crucial role in building relationships across the business to influence how technology innovation is embedded in the overall culture of the organisation. But to play that role well and enable IT to truly add value to the business CIOs need to change their way of doing things.

CIOs will have to understand the technology landscape surrounding the organisation and make it understand how innovative technologies can improve its efficiency, providing maximum benefit and optimal value. 


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