The CIO in a World at a Tipping Point

A Perspective on the Changing Role of the Chief Information Officer in the Digital Age

by Dan Albright, Joshua Biggins, Roberto Busin, & Anmol Jain. August 2018

Today’s CIO Sits at a Tectonic Shift in Technology

We are in the crux of a new age where change is the only constant. Extraordinary technological advances are transforming the very fabric of our society. For the world of business, innovation and transformation have moved beyond an aspirational state and have become a prerequisite for survival.

Correspondingly, the volume of disruptive technologies that can pose existential threats to established business models is on the rise. Robotic process automation and machine learning algorithms have rapidly infiltrated new apps, devices and platforms. And as their ability to parse data grows, expansion of sensor-enabled devices – i.e. the Internet of Things – is supplying the information required to transform factory floors and entire smart cities.

Further complicating the lives of established businesses is the ‘Uberization’ phenomenon, which is disintermediating businesses built on relationships and silo’d information. This transition is being enabled by cloud-based data lakes that unlock information historically trapped in traditional enterprise infrastructure.

The organizations that can rapidly recognize and adapt their business models to the new environment and market changes, in real-time, will emerge as the winners. Those that are slow risk becoming obsolete. At the fault-line of this great tectonic shift, steering a company through the whirlwind of disruption, is the chief information officer (CIO).

Modus Operandi of the Next-Generation CIO

The following 7 key areas are our expert recommendations on where a CIO should best play and focus efforts to drive the organization of the future forward.

1. Focus on Integrated Services

In the digital age, a CIO’s success will not be measured only by what they build, but also by the services they integrate. There is a clear shift from one who buys and manages fixed assets to one who manages services (e.g., infrastructure, applications, and security). Greater focus on service management will require leveraging the shared services model, where possible.

2. Create New Hybrid Functions

Today’s fluid business ecosystem calls for cross-functional experiences and versatile capabilities. The CIO role should therefore be heavily connected with global services functions like marketing, HR, finance, procurement, sales order management and supply chain for optimal organizational agility. Incumbents need to be chosen from a non-traditional skill-pool that goes beyond information technology expertise.

3. Build Strong C-level Relationships

The success of this new role hinges on strong C-level relationships. Engaging beyond the conventional IT network and maintaining a close working relationship with the CFO is not enough. Evolving new partnerships with the chief marketing officer, CEO and COO is key.

4. Align your Digital Strategy

The CIO is going to be responsible for hiring a CDO (chief digital officer). Many leading companies are starting to introduce the role of CDO as an orchestrator of digital innovations. The CDO has the mission to collect, feed and grow disruptive products and services. In concert with a CIO, this role can help lead the transition into new digitally-enabled opportunities that unlock the power of algorithms and automated, intelligent workflows.

5. Remove Silos

The legacy, silo’d IT organization will virtually disappear. In its place, technology experts will work hand-in-hand with the business to drive innovation. The clear shift to data-driven processes means that business and technology must work closely together to craft use cases and differentiated processes.

6. Calibrate the Balance

The importance of network effects are continuing to be amplified in several areas of today’s digital business landscape. To harness this dynamic, organizations should leverage digital assets to create new interactions with consumers, partners and employees, making themselves incredibly easy to do business with.

7. Combine Standardization with Decentralization

Perhaps the single most powerful step CIOs can take it to free an organization’s data from its applications. By creating a single “system of record” for data, applications and web services can act as consumers of data, dramatically reducing the time required to stitch together new business use cases.

Dan Albright

Dan Albright

Partner, Leadership Team Member, & Digital Supply Chain Management Practice Head (U.S.)

Dan has 25 years of management consulting experience across the retail, CPG and distribution industries. He currently manages the supply chain group for Infosys Consulting in the U.S., overseeing some of our top clients such as XPO Logistics, TKE, Sprint and Microsoft. He is also a member of the U.S. leadership team and leads a number of corporate initiatives to support our firm’s growth strategy. Dan has worked across all components of business and technical transformations during his career. Prior to joining Infosys Consulting, he led the consumer packaged goods, retail, and distribution service practice at Capgemini Consulting. Dan resides with his family in Atlanta, Georgia.

Joshua Biggins

Joshua Biggins

Partner, Enterprise Strategy & Architecture Practice (U.S.)

Joshua is a U.S.-based partner with Infosys Consulting where he leads the Enterprise Strategy & Architecture practice for a number of our industry verticals. For the last 22 years he has focused on helping clients leverage technology to transform business models and unlock value. His experience is focused on the most pressing issues on the CIO agenda, including AI and automation, IT cost reduction, application portfolio rationalization, managed services transformation and technology modernization. He is a regular contributor to the firm’s digital publications and is often sought-after to speak at client events. Joshua graduated from the University of California, Berkeley and currently resides in Seattle, Washington.

Roberto Busin

Roberto Busin

Partner & Manufacturing Segment Head (Europe)

Roberto leads the organization’s Europe manufacturing segment and manages its Switzerland country operations. He is an expert on transforming companies in the areas of supply chain, operations and digital, and has extensive experience setting up global delivery centers with multi-national teams around the globe. Roberto works with business leaders across some of the biggest brands in Europe, and is bringing new ways of approaching artificial intelligence enablers to organizations.

Anmol Jain

Anmol Jain

Associate Partner, Advisory Practice (APAC)

Anmol leads the firm’s CIO advisory practice for the Asia-Pacific region. He has extensive experience in consulting and business transformation, primarily across the financial services industry. Anmol has deep expertise in defining new business operating models, process optimization, banking transformations and digital ecosystems. He previously worked with sister company Infosys Finacle, and prior to that in roles with Capgemini and Accenture. His current focus area is on driving business value for clients through automation and collaboration by harnessing the potential of AI, cloud and analytics. Anmol is also a pro bono advisor to several start-ups in the region.

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