The CIO's new role: More collaboration and less control

Kevin Taylor, President, Asia, Middle East and Africa, BT

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

Kevin Taylor, BT
Photo: Kevin Taylor

The call for greater collaboration between the IT department and business units such as marketing and finance is getting more attention than ever, and is a key evolution we will see throughout this year and next: the redefinition and in some cases even reinvention of the role of the CIO.

In organisations where the demand for digital technologies and skills is critical, we are seeing management and marketing executives exert pressure on CIOs to become more agile, customer-responsive and creative.

At the same time, Asia's growing businesses and workforce are fast embracing digital commerce. Customer interaction is becoming digital and key technologies are increasingly dictated by customers. This had led to the marketing department — who plays a customer serving role — becoming more influential in IT decisions.

The shift to the cloud, mobility and social media, as well as the growth of digital marketing and commerce, is also likely to lead to CIOs having less control in IT procurement and deployment.

Many businesses, particularly in Asia, still view IT a cost centre, rather than a revenue facilitator. The CIO is perceived as not being close enough to the business to fully comprehend the complexity of the transformation.

The CIO as an enabler of growth
Most organisations however, know they cannot be successful on their own. They need their C-suite executives to work together and lead the evolution of their organisation in the new business landscape. Technology powers changes and plays a fundamental role in helping organisations develop a better customer experience. This is where the CIO comes in.

The CIO and IT is a strategic partner, far more so than in the past.

However, to survive the changing landscape, the CIO needs to transform his role as a facilitator or orchestrator of the new digital transformation. The CIO needs to move from technology-centric planning to one that thinks about technology-enabled business strategies.

While the previous function was IT systems management, the new direction for the CIO is to understand how to create platforms that enable new value chains and integrated ecosystems. It will no longer be about cost management; but how the CIO can drive the business. The CIO must develop the technical infrastructure to enable and accelerate revenue growth. He must also educate and enable the whole business to become more "digital."

As more decisions are made by other departments such as marketing, the CIO can support them by sharing his know how and experience and not see technology investments made by other business units as taking away their control or influence.

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