CIO Guide: 5 survival mantras for digital enterprises

In the coming years, CIOs and IT organizations will take a more central role in all of business

CIO Guide: 5 survival mantras for digital enterprises - CIO&Leader

The role of the chief information officer (CIO) is ever-evolving. This is even more pertinent in the digital world as he is expected to strike the right balance between operational excellence and business innovation unlike in the past when his main objective was ‘keeping the lights on’. In the coming years, CIOs and IT organizations will take a more central role in all of business. There are certain areas the CIO can guide his/her organization to prepare for the changes essential to business survival in the years ahead. Here's what you can expect:

# 1 Driving innovation at scale

Scaling digital innovation is a change effort and isn’t easy. For large, established organizations, it may require a fundamental transformation. The focus of scaling is performance improvement and cost reduction, to cross the customer chasm and attract mainstream demand. Direct teams should focus on creating innovations that meet user needs, make business sense and are achievable, given the tools and skills that currently exist in the organization or that are accessible in the market. Scaling principles include discovering pain points and solving for unmet needs, seeing and designing for the bigger picture and investigating platform potential.

# 2 Adapting to a multi-cloud world

When looking to manage a multi-cloud environment, it is important for CIOs to understand these complexities, and how to avoid costly mistakes. To avoid supplier lock-in, businesses are looking at a multi-cloud strategy, where they take their pick from the best cloud applications, platforms and infrastructure offerings to work alongside in-house systems in their datacenters. Organizations are also using various cloud services to optimize IT costs based on specific workloads or projects, such as finding the cheapest way to deal with test and development requirements for a project that may only run for a short period of time. The benefits of deploying multiple cloud services go well beyond matching application requirements. They enable us to fine tune our capabilities to meet or exceed our business requirements, and focus on what matters most to the business.

# 3 Making technology a board-level conversation

Boards guarantee the future health of the organization, magnify the change and think on a high level about the impact on the business. Disruption is after all driven by people and organizations. Boards ensure that the transition to digital is done properly, by creating digital risk profiles of the organization. And by showing management how they can develop a growth strategy using digital to increase the company's potential value creation. It is mandatory for Boards to know what a company’s digital strategy program is and what change it brings to the organization. Every Board Member should be aware of the impact digital transformation has on the company's business.

# 4 Balancing cost savings while driving revenue

 In the current economic climate, cost is obviously a big factor; so reducing the cost of delivering service is often the main driver for improving operational efficiency. It is worth noting that you can reduce your costs necessary to deliver service or operate a process, but if your customers leave because the quality of service has dropped then you are still in danger of going out of business. It’s about delivering the required quality of service for an acceptable cost. Quite often automation is used as one of the key techniques to improve efficiency and can achieve significant benefits when implemented with effective business change. Automation is about using technology effectively to do tasks that would otherwise have been done manually. It can generate benefits like improving the speed of the tasks, improving quality as well as reducing cost, removing human error and manual activity.

# 5 Maintaining relentless customer focus

The more you know about a customer, the better you'll be able to help out. Research each customer thoroughly and when you meet, ask questions that deepen your understanding. Such knowledge makes selling easier and increases the percentage of prospects that become customers. Whenever you win or lose a sale, have everybody involved to freely discuss what went right and what went wrong, without fear of reprisals or negative performance reviews.

(As told to Sohini Bagchi by Dr. Makarand Sawant, Senior General Manager - IT, Deepak Fertilizers and Petrochemicals Corporation)

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