To keep pace with digitalization, organizations are going under various type of transformations. CIOs, while keeping this transformation in mind are thinking of reshaping their role from delivery head to business head and are beginning to help and transform their firms to exploit technology innovation and become more digitally product-centric. The CIO role will therefore transform to a business leader as innovation, digitalization and new technology enabled business models evolve and gain success -
Market demands and the fast changing business environment has enabled CIOs from all big companies to undergo role transformation and become Corporate Innovators. Today it is not the CMO alone that decides the go-to-market strategies of the company, but it is taken both by the CMO and the CIO jointly.
Of course, the vision and the roadmap are the first pre-requisites to a 2-3 year strategy for a CIO. As Amitabh Mishra, Chief Digital Officer - Vedanta Resources puts it, the IT and digital strategies have to reflect business priorities. “For example, if cutting costs is business priority #1, the technology strategy has to reflect that reality. After the strategy is formulated, it's important to obtain the buy-in of key business stakeholders and identify key initiatives. After that, formulating the action steps to execute those initiatives is not a hard thing to do.”
“A CIO vision should always align with business goals that both can be achieved together,” agrees Ravinder Arora, Head – Information Security, IRIS Software. “Regular review with stakeholder and board also ensure that overall vision can be tracked and monitor. There should be clearly define KPI and approach ensures that measurement tools will be tightly focused on collecting, analysing, reporting and responding to specific key vital signs.”
A CIO should always think proactive - what is going on nearby, what are the new things available, analysing the technology of how they can be benefited to my business growth and same time we should always think the solution’s pros and cons. A CIO should have a 360 approach towards any issue or any solution. CIO action should not be always only monitory benefits, but it should also be time saving and accurate, which indirectly will contribute towards business growth.
Says Sandeep Jamdagni, Head IT - Ashiana Housing Ltd, “I believe the CIO vision has to be focused on today’s world opportunities, but also have a clear view of business directions and transformation for future. Having an understanding of business strategy and close market watch, any disruption in business process and introduction of technology can be done for business revenue growth.”
In recent times, IT has become the driving force for an organization's growth. New and emerging technologies are being discussed with respect to its RoI, business and customer impact. The Board is willing to invest in the technology if any of the business parameters like Revenue, Improved customer satisfaction & Outreach in the market is improved. To get the approval, project plan is prepared & parameters like productivity, revenue enhancement of the organization is calculated and presented to the Board members.
According to Anoop Handa, Managing Director - Anlight Consulting Services, the RoI on all Technology Initiatives should be measured with respect to business results. “Unless Technology initiative undertaken by CIO increase revenues or enhance customer services or yields productivity and operational gains, they should neither be approved nor undertaken by CIO,” he says.
Opines Ashok Jade, CIO - Shalimar Paints, “In most of the organisation IT is not expected to generate direct Revenue or Profits. However, they are certainly expected to help increase revenue or profit and focus on consumer need. Considering this fact, it is not advisable for IT operating by its own set of rules, as a mysterious black box without adding business value and growth. In most of the cases, it is found that IT functions are focusing on delivering products and service but it is often forgotten to evaluate their value addition to business growth.”
While CIOs are recognized as business transformers and members of senior executive team, there are many challenges in current scenario to transforming CIOs vision into an action and measuring the business results, as pointed out by D V Seshu Kumar, Asst Vice President – IT Head, Orient Cement Limited.
“Analysis says now a day CIOs are spending more than 50% of their time for innovations. However convincing the Board for introduction of a new solution while replacing the disruption of existing workaround becomes a huge challenge. How can ROI be calculated while improving efficiencies of the operations etc., balancing the needs to influence business strategy are some of the things that he has to keep in mind while introducing anything new into the organization,” he says.
CIO Best Practices
Bipradas Bandyopadhyay, Head of IT - Zuari Infraworld India
“In my current profile many technical innovations have been done that have brought good business result for the organization both internally & externally. Using Data Science and Analytics I have formalized a social media marketing strategy that increased lead generation by 200% in a span of 3 months and subsequently conversion also increased quite substantially. Internally as process improvement initiative, implementation of the centralized document management software has improved turnaround time of our Projects, Procurement Departments by 33% in a period of 6 months."
Ravinder Arora, Head – Information Security, IRIS Software
“There are many projects I have delivered where I have seen my role changing from an enabler to an innovator, some of which are - Automation of overall application Security framework and Automation of all compliance tracking.”
Sanjay Singh Gahlod (General Manager), System & IT Department, Oriental Rubber India
“We are in the process now to remove Buda (Unnecessary doing things) on daily routine and trying to remove those things or giving solution from system so that we can save time and energy and the same time can be utilized in effective work resultant will be contributing towards business growth.”
Arindam Singha Roy, CIO - East India Udyog Ltd.
“My planning process is a systematic approach to strategic planning and a way of managing progress towards achieving the vision and strategic goals of the organization. First of all, I try to understand what the vision is. Secondly I design the strategies and tactics to help us move towards that vision. Thirdly metrics are defined that determines what needs to be measured, to ensure that the effectiveness of those strategies are working towards a common vision with Key Performance Indicators to ensure that they can measure correctly the performance of those tactics. Fourthly the Master Schedule is done for a clear project plan that identifies the actions required to deliver that.”
Anoop Handa, Managing Director - Anlight Consulting Services
“Few of the best practices/suggestions that have worked for me individually and for my teams as well, are -
- Understanding my business very well
- Developing good relationships across functions and across levels
- Never working in isolation. Interacting, Exchanging Ideas and listening to business issues/pain areas and then trying to resolve those issues
- Never adopting Technology for sake of it and just because it’s a trend. On the contrary, enabling your business with ‘Fit-for-purpose’ technology solutions that deliver business value."
Amitabh Mishra, Chief Digital Officer - Vedanta Resources
“It is important to bring in an outside perspective, for example, from a top 4 consulting company. In addition, a service with an exclusive advisory consultant such as Gartner is also advisable. Based on these outside perspectives, the IT leadership team can formulate a set of critical initiatives that will bring the greatest impact to business. The next step to remember is that IT needs to be assertive and ask business a lot of questions. If business asks for something to be done, IT leaders have to not just execute the task, but also ask pertinent questions that'll show business what the real issue is. Business likes to be challenged by IT and other supporting services.”
Sandeep Jamdagni, Head IT - Ashiana Housing Ltd.
“In our organization, we follow the approach of regular exchange of information – of having formal and informal meetings with all departments and understanding their constraints in process as a team member and not as an IT Guy.
There were dedicated customers service executives who use to spend most of their time in providing ledger/pending payments and interest details to customers. As per organization policy of transparency in all processes, 3w enabled our customer service portal and linked it with CRM customer financial data (account ledger), where customers can see and understand all his/her payments/receipts and charged interest on delayed payments. This also saved the customer care executive time, which he/she can devote in more productive activities and engaging more new customers.”
Sanjay Chowdhry, Chief Information Officer - Hamdard Laboratories India
“CIOs & their team need to continue dig deep into the internal & external processes of the organization. This will give them an insights into the manual processes still utilized even after technology is used for broader process. Even after implementing various digital / IT projects, small processes still exists inside every technological driven process. I and my team has gone a step further in recognizing those small processes by continuously remaining in touch with the end users. An innovator or out of the box thinking is required to digitize these small processes.”
Ashok Jade, CIO - Shalimar Paints
“Over the period of time, IT team has become comfortable for keeping themselves away from business. We create a condition and environment in which people can express them freely - they encourage team-members to go beyond their tribe, silos and patterns. They also understand and recognize that each individual is capable of creating innovation and ideas in their own capacity.
Although it is easy to say to have ROI for each project, but in reality it is very difficult to have an win-win equation on IT Budget wherein business function also agrees on business value which IT has brought in to respective function.
D V Seshu Kumar, Asst Vice President – IT Head, Orient Cement Limited
“CIOs are having tremendous opportunities to become top business executives, and not just single-minded IT geeks. Potential CIOs know how to change the dynamics of the Organization by refining information and leveraging technology for business advantage. In my view it is very important that they would devote their time and energy to gain understanding of the business inside-and-out.
In my view some of the traditional CIOs are often live in the silo, take the inside-out lens to run transactional way. The outlier CIOs are innovative business leaders who can step out of the conventional thinking.”
Dheeraj Chawla, CMO/CIO - Shib Dass & Sons
“In today's world, it is the macro prospective of looking towards the things that really matters and not the micro one. Being a CIO/CMO of an organisation comes with tremendous challenges; any decision to be taken for implementation have to be seen in the light of feasibility and reliability and if so a proper timing need to be attached. CIOs, CFOs, CEOs or any head of the organisation should tune things as per business objectives."
Role of the Modern CIO…
According to many CIOs and CTOs, the modern CIO must wear the hat of a business head and be well conversant with issues plaguing the business – be it in Sales & Marketing, Operation, Administration or general governance.
“As CIO, he/she should be able to correctly identify the problem/pain areas, suggest appropriate resolution by using updated or latest technologies and ensure good level of monitoring of the implementation of the solution proposed and be sure that the implemented solution is indeed the resolution of the problem identified. A detailed understanding of existing business challenges, products, markets and future plan of the organization is required before a CIO becomes strategic advisor of CEO - both in technological and business worlds,” says Bipradas Bandyopadhyay, Head of IT - Zuari Infraworld India.
Observes Dheeraj Chawla, CMO/CIO - Shib Dass & Sons, “The modern CIO is not a person with a bundle of technical knowledge only but is a person who is flexible in taking the role of CFO, CMO, as it is aptly said that the best person is the one who can read other’s mind well. Multitasking, Multidimensional, Multithinking is the new mantra for a CIO.”
To succeed in this position, the modern CIO must be adept at matching strategic IT guidance, knowledge of trends and emerging technologies, with an understanding of key business processes. There should also be a focus on security, and an up-to-date disaster recovery plan or an internal security protocol for the staff, as well as other layered measures to catch as many potential problems as possible before they become critical issues.
As Sanjay Singh Gahlod (General Manager), System & IT Department - Oriental Rubber India contends, a modern CIO should choose technology which should be cost effective and easily deployable. “Though it is dependent on IT budget approval, but a CIO should be open for new technology and prime focus should be data security and instant IT up time in case of failure.”
The endeavour should be to evolve and grow from doing “Running the Business” activities to being able to work and contribute to “Changing the Business” role.
Strategically, a CIO plays a mellow person’s role in most of the organization. That role need not change, because what is more important is to keep an eye on business market and open to adapt new technology and process changes.
Lastly, modern CIOs have to provide INNOVATION services to business peers, as the focal point is business, not on technology alone itself. Analysis from reputed agencies say that by 2020, 60% of large enterprises will create data management or monetization capabilities, enhance enterprises functions, competitiveness, and creating new sources of revenue, and also organizations on an average expect above 20% of their revenues comes from data monetization.