Recently I had an opportunity to write series of blog articles for CIO Asia magazine. I am posting those here since sometimes after a while these articles become unavailable from the publisher’s main site. Here is a link to the article, http://cio-asia.com/blogs/guest-blogs/guest-blog-the-driving-force-behind-future-business-success
Read Suhas Kelkar’s earlier blogs:
In today’s business environment, where change has become the only constant, smart businesses are rapidly moving towards re-innovating and re-inventing themselves, in an attempt to stay ahead of their fiercest competitors. Businesses that are too slow to adapt are finding themselves edging nearer to the extinction. One of the key drivers of this change is technology.
Technology is changing the way businesses are conducted today. What used to be impossible a few years ago is now possible with the aid of technology. New disruptive ways are challenging the traditional business models across the region. As a result, expectations have changed dramatically. Today, users have access to better technology in their homes than at their workplace, and expect the same level of access and self-service from their IT department at work.
In addition, businesses are also faced with increased pressure to do more with less. Successful businesses are pushing the boundaries of what is possible with technology to better serve their current customers and generate new revenue streams.
The Role of the Next-Generation CIO
The most influential role in helping businesses navigate through these turbulent times is the role of CIO. No longer are CIOs expected to only keep the IT side of things up and running, they are also required to take on a more business-oriented role and contribute to corporate strategic planning for the company as a whole.
In my previous articles (The Innovative Role of the Asia Pacific CIO and Next-gen CIOs are empowered to innovate), I touched on the transition CIOs have to make, from Chief Information Officer to Chief Innovation Officer or risk becoming obsolete in the corporate hierarchy. A decade ago, the need to innovate was primarily motivated by the desire to get a leg up over competitors in the market. Today, because of new emerging technologies in the market, it has become a matter of survival. Rigidity is now a red herring for companies everywhere.
It is of little surprise, therefore, that in a recent global survey conducted by Forrester Consulting, on behalf of BMC Software, it was found that 72 percent of CIOs believe their organisations see cloud computing as a means to circumvent IT departments. These CIOs worry that cloud and other emerging technologies will undermine their relevancy to business leaders and become an obstacle to partnership-building.
While concerns around the CIO’s relevancy in today’s business environment are valid, they must understand that constantly changing technological innovations, such as cloud computing, also provide a wealth of opportunity for them to capitalise on.
For example, instead of having to devote limited corporate budget and time on monthly or yearly software upgrades and server upgrades, cloud computing allows CIOs to focus their resources in developing better business solutions and practices for clients.
When beginning such a strategic and visible initiative, it is natural to look for guideposts and travel logs of those who have passed before you. With the cloud being a relatively new IT model, the road is not well travelled or described. At my organisation, we’ve implemented clouds around the world for several years, and we’ve seen the challenges, stumbling blocks, and ultimate triumphs.
I believe that leveraging on the cloud advantage is just one example of the many doors of opportunity today’s rapidly changing businesses environment, spearheaded by new technology, has opened up. Hence, this new generation of CIOs need to figure out how to utilise emerging technology at hand to drive initiatives that can add value to their corporations.
Capitalising on Emerging Technologies
Another recent study by Gartner (Gartner Executive Programs January 2012) found that CIOs view analytics and business intelligence, mobile technology, and cloud computing, respectively, as their top three technology priorities for 2012. This reflects what I mentioned earlier about how much business practices has changed today and how companies must re-evaluate their priorities to reflect the change or fall behind.
I find mobile technology particularly interesting as it has given rise to the recent trend of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), where employees bring in their personal devices, such as smart phones and tablets, to work. However, some CIOs still remain wary about the concept of BYOD because of the numerous security threats it poses to sensitive company data.
However, remaining adamant on the old way of doing things — allowing only company-owned computers and devices — means losing out the potential benefits that BYOD offers.
For example, employees may be more efficient when working on their personal devices as they are more used to it. From a corporate angle, companies can also save cost on having to purchase devices for their employees, and devote the expenses to a more productive venture.
The Driving Force behind Business Success
In today’s business environment, change is the only constant. The more businesses resist change, the quicker they head towards their own ruin. However, it’s important to be mindful of the fact that while change is necessary, changing in the right direction is fundamental. Companies should not change for the sake of changing, but rather, they must change in ways that would drive them closer to their overall business objective, which, according to the same Gartner survey for the year 2012, is increasing enterprise growth.
As I have reflected in all of my articles, the key takeaway from the various CIO conferences is that CIOs of today are very different from the CIOs of the past. The new-generation CIOs are expected to become the symbiotic bridge between IT and business; they must ready themselves to become a driving force to take their businesses forward.