A key responsibility and ambition for all CIOs is to oversee IT transformation in their organisation. A CIO can accomplish this by keeping track of emerging trends and then influencing the business model.
As a CIO digital trends will make or break their career. Understanding changes in digital will be a chance for the CIO to become the next 'digital CEO' influencing and leading the C-suite.
CIO UK looks at how to implement new technology as a starting CIO. (You may also like: Cyber security strategy for a new CIO.)
Keep up to date with emerging trends
According to the 2017 Gartner Hype Cycle, emerging trends such as blockchain, IoT and cloud are helping to transform the business strategy. To get ahead in the market a CIO needs to test and research a given product before its competitors.
The traditional CIO would spend long hours working away, looking after hardware and software provision and keeping down costs, without getting the recognition they deserve.
The modern CIO is measured not on how many hours they put in or costs they can save, but on what they produce and how they can influence positive change within the organisation.
It's important to spend time staying abreast of the latest technologies and products used by peers and rivals. Then you can offer a line of business leaders tools with which they can improve their departments, and therefore the customer experience.
Communicate with the board
According to PwC, 47% of CIOs feel they add value to the business, with CIOs now taking the opportunity to teach board executives the word 'digital'.
As technology advances, CIOs are now taking steps to ensure digital is communicated and CIO Darryn Warner uses his role to work alongside the CEO, the plc and their divisional boards to help deliver a digital message at Interserve.
“Communicating what it can mean for them, their customers, suppliers and the community at large is front and centre of our thinking,” he said. “I take the various business change activities across the group and categorise them into stories that can be easily understood by the boards.”
The use of infographics, telling personal stories and avoiding IT jargon can help break down information to ensure an understanding of IT at board level. This can ensure executives are aware of the changes in technology and the overall digital strategy.
Road test products
CIOs are under pressure to add value to the company through innovative technology. Implementing technology across the workforce through employing products and speeding up the digital process can be a challenge for a CIO. Typically a CIO doesn't directly control every department of the business.
By understanding the needs of the organisation, and having a vision for how the customer experience can be transformed and improved, the CIO can look for emerging tech that will fit the bill.
CIO 100 entrant Karl Hoods, at Save the Children, is currently investing in a range of operations across the organisation.
New technology such as "wearable technology, IoT and drones" are currently in development to be used on the charity's programmes. They are also investigating how "payment industry developments" may impact on giving. (See also: Evolution of the CIO - From IT gatekeeper to strategic business leader.)
Work with vendors
Partnering with vendors can lead to needed support and expertise as well as further materials for the organisation.
Arsenal FC is currently using its partnership to help drive experimentation with IoT and virtual reality as a way to improve the quality of coaching they provide to its players.
“I have identified a number of new vendors who we are now using, and we are now seeing evidence that the quality and quantity of data available to analysts and players are significantly improving our coaching and post-game analysis,” said Arsenal’s CIO Hywel Sloman.
The CIO said that one of his many responsibilities is to find the best vendors in this space, and limit the number they work with, so they can “truly understand and influence” what they are trying to achieve.
“As a smaller organisation, we tend not to work with the bigger IT vendors, where we don’t have the need for the size and scale they provide or the budgets to draw their attention," Sloman said.
"I like to work with smaller, more nimble vendors who can work at the pace we need and can bring innovation and new ideas to us. I am also very clear that innovation tends not to come from our industry, so I work hard to build relationships and get ideas from organisations outside football.”
The collaboration of ideas and further knowledge can help implement emerging technology, and Red Bull Racing CIO Matt Cadieux sees working with vendors as a great chance to see people “having their finger on the pulse” when it comes to innovation.
“I think having the talent to know what is possible for the delivery of products when forming a relationship with vendors,” he said. “Having the guidance and the support from the suppliers as to who the best players out there are can help deliver the best products and innovation,” he added.
Increase the business agenda
According to Harvey Nash, 67% of CIOs are expecting their strategic influence to increase in 2017. The CIO’s role is influential on the overall business strategy creating new opportunities for the IT team.
Producing a strategy to support the business agenda can grow the enterprise, tailoring the right products and services to your users.
For example, fintech has become one of the most important and transformative emerging sectors in the digital landscape.
Albert Ma, CIO and VP of Toyota, recently discussed with our sister title CIO US the manufacturer's biggest innovation in technological products.
Ma said Toyota is "really excited to develop blockchain technology" over the next five years. There are still "technology and regulatory hurdles" to pass but that Blockchain use will have a "significant impact" within Toyota.
Blockchain technology is a method of recording data which can help banks with financial transactions.
Ma continues "emerging markets such as ridesharing and car sharing" can benefit in bringing "full transparency" and "complete immutability" into a process.
Challenges for a CIO
Board executives will need to keep updating the model as the digital landscape evolves. A recent survey has seen 41% of board executives becoming aligned with the technology department. This has led to executives developing their own
This has led to executives developing their own roles by being digitally aware. Senior leaders understand that IT can solve their problems - so they are taking more of an interest.
First Utility's C-suite has four of its seven members from an IT background, meaning new technology is on everyone's radar.
Since the arrival as CIO Bill Wilkins the energy supplier is focused on convenience and immediacy. It has continually reinvented itself and its customer experience over the past eight years.
Wilkins' role has seen challenges with some emerging tech not reaching the level of value First Utility is prepared to support. The company is currently actively "looking for a killer app", as its product portfolio expands.
He says that creating a customer engagement with energy consumption through wearables became a "reality check project". He sees a way improving the relationship and immediacy between the company and its customers through notifications to wearables such as a "missed payment on energy account or direct debit failed", or even real-time notification of a significant energy-consumption change.
The vision is there, the challenge is to get it right and make it useful for customers.
Implementing a service across the workforce or customer base is less challenging than is getting the product noticed.
A CIO can make the products valued by offering certain services for free, in return for future coverage.
This limited exchange, for service to product, can increase the overall user rate of the new tech being employed.