The world is experiencing an unprecedented paradigm shift from the physical to the virtual. Everything that can be connected will be, including people, places and things. This shift is at the center of business transformation worldwide and it is mandating that IT leaders continue to reinvent themselves even more. This necessitates IT leaders to transform from technologists to business strategists. The IT decision makers’ ability to integrate data and applications with the cloud, mobile and the IoT to bring innovation to the forefront in a compelling, reliable manner will determine if a business will prosper in this new world.
Three overarching trends will impact nearly every individual and business, and those CIOs who readily leverage these opportunities will help make sure their business has a deeper, more meaningful relationship with their customers and other important constituents.
The first is mobilization. Four, sometimes even five generations of people, are in the same workplace and must collaborate and communicate with each other. The youngest of these generations are digital natives, while more experienced generations sometimes still like to print their e-mail to read it. Amid the challenge of such a diverse workplace, technology leaders have to find solutions to reduce the complexity and mobilize each individual so they work as an efficient and productive team.
Two recent trends in mobility is an increase in BYOD devices and the advent of both a business and personal line on one phone, which allows employees flexibility and convenience. On these multi-line devices, companies would want to ensure security of the company’s proprietary data and protocols, regardless of whether the individual or the company owns the device. The question to answer however remains open in many cases: How do you make sure employees use their own devices in the most productive and efficient way? The power of a smartphone should be used to increase corporate productivity.
"In a global economy, one of the CIO’s most business-critical responsibilities is to select the IP network architecture that assures impeccable reliability"
Managed mobility services are also being used more, offloading the device-management and IT burden, freeing CIOs and other technology leaders to focus in areas that drive revenues and growth. The “as-a-service” model also relieves their companies of capital costs, while assuring their employees will have the most innovative devices on an annual basis.
The second part of the paradigm shift is globalization. It used to be if you owned a business, especially a small business, you had customers and competition only in your own city or region. Now a small business in Kansas City can have customers in China or India and certainly has competition all over the world. That requires an infrastructure and tools to help businesses communicate seamlessly and do business worldwide.
In a global economy, one of the CIO’s most business-critical responsibilities is to select the IP network architecture that assures impeccable reliability. This helps make sure customers, prospects and employees have access online to the company’s applications, products and services, as well as to its sales people and customer care professionals.
Globalization also has ramifications for cybersecurity, supply-chain management, reputation management and many other key business-critical topics. For example, a company name can quickly surface in a negative light on a worldwide platform like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and a host of other social networks. That’s why it’s important to be keenly aware and integrated into every operational element of a company to maintain, or repair, access and connectivity issues before the problem is magnified globally.
The third leg of the transformation is digitalization. Everything will be connected. Machine to machine. Places to people. People to people. There are an estimated 20 billion connected devices in the Internet of Things (IoT).
The connectivity boom including sensors, IoT, Bluetooth, WiFi, GSM, LTE, and 5G in the future, is ubiquitous. Robotics and automation continue to make processes less expensive and more efficient in manufacturing, financial services, hospitality and many more industries. 5G’s latency of a millisecond will allow humans and robots to work side by side at similar paces on, for example, production lines or in service industries.
CIOs are leading a digital transformation. According to 2,600 CIOs in Gartner’s 2017 CIO Agenda Survey, digitalization will increase from 18 percent of their budget in 2017 to 28 percent in 2018. Companies are transforming their go-to market strategies to emphasize online access to their customers or to customer service functions. All of this takes better communication, a reliable network and connectivity of people to places online.
To keep up with the waves of mobilization, globalization and digitalization, technology leaders need more than just capital and technology resources. They need talent. However, a Harvey Nash Global CIO Report found that 65 percent of CIOs surveyed believed there is a deficiency in the expertise and talent needed. CIOs, therefore, may rely more on managed services offered by companies to fill the void. According to a 2015 KPMG study, 20 percent of respondents said more than 25 percent of their IT budgets were controlled or managed outside of the IT organization.
A CIO’s responsibilities extend broader and deeper than ever before. An IT world that primarily delivered access and efficiency for a company now must also focus on reliability of its chosen network to reduce down times that impede sales. It must ensure security to fight off the myriad vulnerabilities that exist from intentional threats and those that happen without reason or intent.
CIOs must show their strategies can generate an ROI through integration of technology assets that speed time to market; assure customer/prospect access points are open 24/7, 365 days a year; and that customer care channels have the ability for seamless dialogue with people who want their problem resolved immediately.
The demands and challenges are at a peak. Fortunately, so are the assets, partners and resources available. To increase the chances of achieving all of a CIO’s many objectives, it’s a matter of selecting the right ones.