Digital transformation: a CIO’s friend or foe?

IDC reports that in coming years, the biggest focus for businesses will revolve around digital transformation and chief information officers (CIOs) will be major players in leading every department through this paradigm shift. With the CIO acting as a catalyst, 76 per cent of large organisations across the world have, or plan to adopt, a digitally dynamic approach to technology-led initiatives. This involves more creativity, more flexibility and a more dynamic operating model.

By 2020, there is expected to be more than 50 billion connected devices in the world, dramatically changing the way we live and do business. This runaway connectivity signals a new era of “digital business” and creates a critical moment of opportunity for forward-thinking CIOs to invest in cutting-edge software, devices and hardware.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 allows businesses to use digital intelligence to reimagine what’s possible for their business. Dynamics 365 unifies customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) capabilities into applications that work seamlessly together across sales, customer service, field service, operations, finance, marketing and project service automation – a service every forward-thinking CIO should consider.

As companies accelerate the shift into the era of digital business, CIOs are finally able to devote more time and energy to strategic and transformational activities within the workplace, despite the ongoing requirement to maintain oversight of IT operations, according to the 2017 State of the CIO survey of 646 IT leaders by technology media company IDG. CIOs’ holistic view of departmental goals, underlying infrastructure and supporting IT capabilities positions them to strategically shape the direction of the digital transformation.

For businesses to maintain success and stay at the forefront of their competitors, they will have to focus on innovation, integration and incorporation. That includes implementing cross-functional partnerships, investing in new technology and fostering a culture of innovation within IT. A true end-to-end digital transformation is only possible if there’s co-ordination across IT and lines of business. To lead digital transformation, CIOs can go beyond ensuring that underlying infrastructure is digital-ready; they can also develop and nurture cross-functional digital teams that are equipped to understand and articulate the depth and breadth of these foundational capabilities.

According to IDG, in three to five years CIOs foresee spending less time on functional duties – 7 per cent compared with 20 per cent currently. This is an indication that improvements in automation and a growing agility with the bimodal role will afford CIOs the opportunity to concentrate on higher-value activities that increase businesses’ visibility and drive revenue.

Peter Martin, CIO at QuantiQ, shares what he believes to be the biggest digital transformation challenges he faces in today’s digitally led world.  “One of the starkest challenges facing the CIO over the coming years is working out how not to swamp the user with technology,” he says.

“Using Microsoft as an example of a highly agile technology provider, look at the proliferation of solutions that now sit under the ‘waffle’. One day Planner simply wasn’t there, then it was, followed closely by Teams – both appear to do some similar stuff, but what exactly? And because of the way these systems, or apps, are published, they simply appear! Brilliant I know, but we need to guard against the technology fatigue that must inevitably set in.

“Remember today’s user is a much better informed and more empowered individual, if we constantly throw new shiny products at our users simply because they exist, we stand in danger of alienating them and seeing them simply refuse to co-operate,” Mr Martin says.

“Shortly before Steve Jobs introduced the iPad, the world simply didn’t know that it needed it. Now my own world would barely function without it, and this was not that long ago. This means the present-day CIO has a challenge. How do they find out what is going on, how do they sort the fantasy from the fantastic? In the same way that it is often said that teachers at school are teaching kids for jobs that don’t even exist, the modern-day CIO is trying to prepare and enable a business for technology they do not even know exists.

“Ignoring new technology as it speeds towards us will have the same impact as ignoring a speeding train as it comes towards us.”

Organisations need to disrupt to stay ahead of that speeding train. QuantiQ works with forward-thinking CIOs everyday to roll out intelligent Microsoft Dynamics 365 solutions. Click here to find out more.