A focus on achieving business objectives by improving specific processes through the use of information technology (IT) systems will enable CIOs to get buy-in and returns from implementing technologies that change the business.
IT multinational Wipro Africa business head Gavin Holme says that identifying which parts of a business to digitise is not a case of legacy or renewal, but rather a thorough inspection of the processes and systems underpinning operations that enable CIOs to determine how they can be improved using technology.
“While the usual IT budget is about 80% geared towards running an IT environment and 20% towards funding new projects, a CIO’s thoughts should mainly be on the improvement and development of new systems.”
The cost reductions and performance enhancements that result from successful IT projects will free up funds used to maintain an IT environment and support further digitisation projects.
CIOs must, therefore, focus on identifying and improving various systems and processes, including the standardisation and homogenisation of systems to reduce costs and operating requirements.
“The CIO’s role in the business is to translate the economic and commercial decisions of the board into technology projects. This includes knowing enough about specific technologies to determine their effective application and avoid systems that could limit the businesses’ agility and ability to adapt,” says Holme.
He notes that using the customer as the central point for all technology projects is a very effective way of aligning IT projects – from small, insular projects to large organisationwide projects – with business objectives.
“A customercentric approach provides the defining framework that enables a CIO to determine whether a technology would be applicable and/or effective in addressing a specific process bottleneck or a strategic business goal.”
The main role the CIO will play is to bridge the gap between the board’s economic perspective of the business and the operational and technical processes and systems underpinning its core functions, highlights Holmes.
CIOs have to manage and rationalise the company’s digital transformation and ensure that all the elements align with the business strategy. They must also have a strong relationship and detailed knowledge of various functions and processes in the business to understand the challenges, determine an effective solution and advocate the change . . . with the board.
“To support digital transformation of parts and the whole company, CIOs must keep abreast of new technologies not only in their industry, but also of as many new technologies as possible, since digital technologies are reshaping the barriers between industries and opening new opportunities and markets.”