Over the last few years if your company like most other’s has been focused on bolstering its IT portfolio with buzzword driven projects like cloud, big data, mobile, digital, analytics to name a few, you are probably thinking when would your business start profiting from these investment that seemed wise at the time. Well isn’t it time you gave CIO a seat alongside CFO, COO for instance.

I am bewildered to see the number of organisations that bury their IT department under CFO’s (for instance) resulting in technology solving menial last decade’s problems like:

  • Solving back office efficiency problems
  • Keep systems well oil and maintained
  • Or sinking tons of cash into upgrading ERP systems

In order to drill down my point, I will repeat couple of examples from myprevious blog post. So here we go again:

Here is an interesting article from forbes to ponder upon: ‘GE and GM: Old companies become a new breed of software companies‘. Here is an excerpt from the article worth considering:

In a recent interview, GE’s Jeff Immelt said that every company has to be a software company. “It’s our belief that every industrial company in the coming age is also going to have to be a software and analytics company,” he told Charlie Rose. “The people that deny that digitization is going to impact every corner of the economy is going to be left behind. So we’re investing massively in that, but really around industrial assets and not around things like the consumer Internet.”

From <http://www.forbes.com/sites/joemckendrick/2015/06/22/ge-and-gm-old-companies-become-a-new-breed-of-software-companies/>

Three German car makers, for instance just bought Nokia’s mapping business for $3.1 Billion. They have realised that car manufacturing business can only beat the competition by being ahead of the curve in driver-less car technology.

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com.au/german-automakers-buy-nokia-here-2015-8

What I am trying to say is that if you are planning to stay relevant in next decade, for heaven’s sake promote your CIO! When you have done that, here is a list of strategic outcomes where your CIO needs to partner with his or her peers to concentrate on (keeping technology in mind of course):

#1 Engage customers

True customer engagement is much more than posting and sharing content on social media. It is about leveraging data to target relevant content to customers leading to increase in sales and profits. CIO needs to partner with CMO to work out social media strategies and gathering intelligence using big data analytics leading to targeting effort on right avenues.

Needless to say, mobile marketing, payment and customer engagement platform is something that needs to form core part of marketing strategy.

Consider following technology trends to form customer engagement strategy:

  • Mobile
  • Data analytics
  • Digital
  • Self service
  • Social media

#2 Gauge trends in customer behaviour and execute targeted marketing

There is an interesting case study I came across about major retailer in America – Perry Ellis International. Until recently Perry Ellis was struggling to connect with and engage with its customer after years of history maintaining customer loyalty. At the surface it seems like the introduction of customer loyalty program turned things around for them, but dig deeper and you will realise how sophisticated use of technology helped them get better insight into customer behaviour. They used the CRM software to design targeted marketing programs, improvement in customer service as call centre employees have access to up to date information and using customer database to drive wholesale business.

From <http://risnews.edgl.com/retail-news/Building-an-Emotional-Connection96978>

For branding, consider following technology trends:

  • Social media
  • eCommerce
  • Digital
  • Data analytics
  • IoT

#3 Speed to market and scale globally

Needless to say, with advent of ecommerce you can beat the competition by bringing your products to market quicker. Consider the following finding from accenture business technology trend report (2015):

As everyday objects are going online, so too are experiences— creating an abundance of digital channels that reach deep into every aspect of individuals’ lives. Forward-thinking businesses are changing the ways they build new applications, products, and services. To gain control over these points of access, they are creating highly personalized experiences that engage and exhilarate consumers—without breaching the customer’s trust. The companies that succeed in this new “Internet of Me” will become the next generation of household names.

From <http://techtrends.accenture.com/us-en/business-technology-trends-report.html>

Relevant technology trends to consider:

  • Ecommerce
  • Digital enabled business
  • Digital relationships
  • Mobile Self service
  • CRM

#4 Improve efficiency and save cost

I needn’t say too much in this area as this is something that we have been doing for a while – using technology to drive business efficiency. However, I would like to point out that CIO will need to keep focus on system integration to drive benefits from best of breed COT solutions, Cloud SaaS offering and in house legacy systems. Not to forget, internet of things is being used to drive efficiency in creative ways. Take the example of Coca-Cola increased sales by 12 percent by retrofitting vending machines with touchscreens, video cameras and Microsoft kinect technology. Apart from increase in sales, these technologies has helped them make better decisions in re-stocking better cooling and other decisions leading to decrease in cost.

Here are the technology trends to consider:

  • Integration
  • Process automation
  • IoT

#5 Drive innovation

Modern enterprises are increasingly using the power of crowdsourcing to capture ideas for driving growth. The channel acts as not just a platform to increase company’s awareness but also to capture new opportunities. Something which is ignored by surprisingly large number of companies is a simple customer engagement strategy like responding to customer complaints/requests or feedback on social media platforms. In addition to engaging customers better, further opportunities and insights will be available to drive new opportunities.

Technology trend to use:

  • Collaboration
  • Social media

#6 Make business resilient

The area of data security warrants a whole separate blog post but to drill in the importance, consider the implications of collecting all that data and insights only to lose it your competitor because of security breach. As far as high availability is concerned, I needn’t say too much as we appreciate how impatient our consumers have become and they demand nothing short of 100% availability.

Couple of technology areas to help with this strategy:

  • IT security
  • High availability and backup

Lastly, Harvard Business Review has branded these front runners who are pursuing growth through IT enabled business innovation as “Innovation accelerators  “. Here is a beautiful list of six characteristics shared by these Innovation Accelerators:

  • Their commitment to technology-driven business innovation starts at the top, with the CEO.
  • Their approach to innovation is structured and managed—but they value speed over perfection and cut through bureaucracy.
  • They value diversity of thought and experience, collaborating fluidly across functions, hierarchy, and traditional corporate boundaries.
  • Their CIOs are significantly more likely to spend their time on activities that are strategic to the business.
  • They have strong IT departments that actively and productively contribute to the corporate innovation agenda.
  • They are more likely to invest in and reward innovation.

From <https://hbr.org/resources/pdfs/comm/red%20hat/hbr_red_hat_report_march14.pdf>