There has never been a better time to be in IT: the impact of mobile and cloud technologies has transformed the way individuals interact with companies, and created opportunities for businesses to target their services and brands to people in new and creative ways.

Furthermore, IT is now relevant across the whole business, and has the ability to make efficiencies and bring change across the organisation. Innovative IT leaders have the opportunity to be right at the heart of business transformation, empowering employees to pioneer the changes they want to see in the workplace.

In this new environment, it is becoming increasingly evident that the old way of doing business and building IT systems no longer works. IT needs to move from an internally-facing function - managing infrastructure and keeping phones running - to being able to transform the business.

IT visionaries are well aware of the change towards more flexible cloud and mobile platforms. “Being able to put so much on one platform, and having the ability to innovate in different ways on a platform, is really very exciting,” says Christina Scott, CIO at the Financial Times,

Stanley Black & Decker’s Director of IT, Ryan Lawrence, adds: “You absolutely have to keep up. You can’t get stuck in a rut. You have to evolve, you have to change with your customers; change with the technology; and stay ahead of it.”

There is no alternative. Businesses must evolve with their customers, employees and the technology itself, to stay ahead and operate faster and in a more agile way.

And in today’s digital marketplace, it’s all about reacting to business and customer events quickly, getting to market faster, and introducing innovation in days rather than months.

“I truly believe that speed is the new currency for business,” says Jeroen Tas, CEO for Informatics Solutions Services at Philips Healthcare. “You’ve got to move fast. And those that are taking too long to think through it or consider things, they will find themselves left behind sooner than they expected. 

Today’s most successful digital businesses use mobile apps to empower their employees wherever they are, helping them build customer engagement and enabling them to be more agile and productive.

Secondly, they automate business processes, driving down inefficiencies by pioneering digital ways of working. Organisations that have the edge have learned the importance of rapidly developing apps that will bring new efficiencies to their workflows and processes.

Thirdly, visionary IT leaders innovate continually using cloud and mobile. Today’s platforms enable apps to be generated quickly, piloted immediately and adapted and improved iteratively.

Gone are the days of big bang implementations, where the business holds its breath waiting for the installation to be successful. Instead, IT has the power to become an exciting platform for innovation, where it’s possible to meet the needs of the business rapidly and powerfully.

It’s not only technologists who get to innovate on today’s platforms: LOB business users can now develop their own apps and workflows. For example, with a Platform-as-a-Service ecosystem like Salesforce App Cloud, non-technical users can create business apps quickly and easily, using point and click visual tools.

In the old days, business software didn’t change much in the short term, and enterprise application upgrades were annual or even longer for some monolithic ERP systems. In addition, employees had to fit around the software and get used to its quirks and usability issues.

Today, your software and systems need to be agile enough to respond daily to the changing needs of your business, customers and partners. Cloud and mobile apps give organisations the means of meeting those needs.

Consequently, in today’s digital world, every company is essentially an app company. New businesses processes are being improved by cloud; employees are being empowered to innovate; the technology is becoming easier to master; and software lifecycles are now counted in days.

So, how do you prepare for this new world? Ultimately you need a platform that gives you the agility and structure you need to empower the business to respond to changes in demand, and avoid the prospect of Shadow IT.

There’s still a strong need for strategic input and direction from IT leaders. With Salesforce App Cloud, they are ideally positioned to direct and encourage business transformation. Ultimately, IT can direct app development and transformational projects, and provide frameworks and policies for them 

IT is best placed to lead the business and show it the way, with the impact the CIO can have on the business being bigger than ever before.

The status of technology within an organisation is evolving rapidly; and so is the role of the CIO. New technologies, such as Salesforce App Cloud, are enabling breakthrough capabilities. Meanwhile, workers are getting more tech-savvy and expectant of having better, more efficient, more mobile ways of working.

As a result, the role of the IT leader is morphing into one of strategic advisor to the business, and driver of innovation within the company. It’s all about seizing the opportunity to be the change agent for your business through technology. Are you ready?