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The CIO’s Digital Dilemma

The CIO’s Digital Dilemma

Dec 21, 2016

Three recent trends in IT have arisen that signal to IT and the CIO both a dilemma and an opportunity. They are:

• IT budgets continue to shrink
• Enterprise Software Purchases are increasing
• XaaS Cloud and service offerings are increasing, many being purchased without IT input

These trends have been obvious within all of the leading 2016 end of year reviews. Additional movements have also put pressure on IT, most notably, the ever increasing expectation of the business for IT to be flexible and agile.

So, the summary: less budget, more competition, and higher expectations. This is the reality for CIOs and IT in today’s world. The higher expectations are centered on providing customers an omni-channel experience that retains their loyalty while increasing revenue and profits.

Despite this conundrum, there is a fantastic opportunity for IT leaders and their departments. The digital movement does empower IT in ways like never before. There is only one caveat to this. IT must be ready.

Here are a few things that IT can do to ensure it is positioned to excel in the digital world:

• Immediately assess and strengthen integration platforms – There is no obstacle I hear more about in my working with organizations than integration. Amongst all of the hype about analytics, customer journey mapping, and mobile capabilities, nothing is more important than context. Context is only achieved with an integrated environment. With that noted, it is often the most overlooked need for digital. Don’t dismiss this need. Don’t wait. Tackle it systematically.

• Don’t fall for the journey map hype – One of the leading tactics of digital service vendors is the “journey map.” Quite frankly, these are useful, but nowhere near as useful as advertised. Vendors hang the carrot of knowing the emotional needs of the customer as instrumental to achieving optimal customer experience. IT has to ask itself whether emotional understanding will get the job done. In reality, there are two reasons why these are not the end all. First, integration platforms are not sufficient to provide omni-channel context (see bullet number one). Second, emotional reactions don’t provide ROI. So, IT must lead the focus to find customer experience opportunities that produce ROI as well. This way, digital gains momentum.

• Immediately elevate your business centric team members – The entire digital wave is fueled by the business focused goals of greater revenue and profits. The operative word is “business.” IT needs to put their business focused team members in front and center positions. This is a combination of structure and role. CIOs should assess their structures to ensure business connection is optimized.

• Create a business focused governance framework – With smaller budgets and teams, IT is moved more and more into oversight and consultative roles. IT cannot fight this. Therefore, IT leaders should be creating governance frameworks that considers the business’ embracing technology acquisition through vendors and service vendors.

• Take a lead role – IT cannot wait to be engaged. IT must proactively get involved. This proactive involvement starts with business focused initiatives. If IT is not being engaged, it can kick start the conversation by using an IT specific strategic planning process. Within that exercise, create chapters specifically named customer experience or digital. IT can use this to initiate conversation with the business for a structured and, more importantly, a business reason.

There are a variety of methods to achieve these goals. Likely, the selection of the means will require a tailored approach. CIOs and IT have an opportunity like never before. All they need to do is embrace it!

For more information or assessment approaches please contact me at gerry.robinson@techbuzzkill.com

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