The role of the CIO is fundamentally shifting as meteoric changes are raining down on the IT landscape. Driving to specific business goals is not merely a technology consideration, it’s a technology imperative. CIOs are responsible for using technology to deliver on organizational goals for growth, productivity, efficiency, innovation, improved customer experiences, and more.
The CIO’s greatest ally is the trajectory of technology. This includes collections of physical and virtual assets—network, compute, data, and security— converging to form intelligent infrastructures. Infrastructures that free CIOs to from the constraints of “lights on” activities to envisioning new organizational possibilities.
This is exponentially magnified as people, process, data, and things come together in new ways. And it’s changing everything. Every organization is becoming a technology organization. People are connecting in more relevant ways, converting data into intelligence, delivering the right information to the right person or machine at the right time, and uniting physical devices and objects to the Internet for smart, automated decision making. These new capabilities will boost workforce collaboration and mobility while driving better business outcomes.
Consider the possibilities:
A driver in search of a parking spot navigates the streets of a busy town. Meanwhile, a parked vehicle leaves its spot. As the car takes off, an underground sensor detects the vacancy and sends a signal in real time, notifying the motorist of the available parking space through a mobile app.
A shopper enters a store and selects a pair of jeans for purchase. Weight sensors on the shelf communicate through the cloud to the retailer’s data center that product inventory has changed. Inventory is replenished based on real-time analytics and trends.
In a manufacturing plant, assets are affixed with wireless sensors. Using remote monitoring technology, plant managers locate and track production inventory on the plant floor and within the supply chain in real time.
The world of convergence and the IoE are the foundation for redefining what’s possible and erasing the limits posed by yesterday’s technologies. And to a large degree, the revolutions of this new era will be limited only by CIOs’ imaginations. Those who think big will win big. They’ll be the creators of the future, they’ll be business innovators.
“Technology has moved from the back office to the front lines,” says Zeus Kerravala, Founder and Principal Analyst at ZK Research. “Convergence used to be about IT cost savings and efficiencies. Today, it’s all about innovation that drives business and operational benefits.”
Underpinnings for Innovation
As CIOs don the mantle of business transformation, several enabling technologies and capabilities will help them succeed; most of which are already running in their network. CIOs simply need to ensure these technologies are being utilized in a manner that provides maximum benefit to the company. The underpinning freeing CIOs to innovate is Fast IT—an IT strategy that’s increasingly simple, smart, and secure. It reduces complexity and cuts costs by bringing together standalone collections of physical and virtual assets. It leverages an intelligent network to make sense of an incredible amount of data and analytics, all leading to smart insights. It fuels agility to help CIOs create capabilities and services that drive business growth by increasing visibility, programmability, and control of IT infrastructure. And it securely detects and automatically addresses attacks.
Another foundational technology is fog computing, a new way of correlating, analyzing, and acting on information at the network edge so people can make smarter, on-the-spot decisions. Also essential is the convergence of operational technology networks (manufacturing floors, energy grids, transportation systems, and other industrial control systems) and IT networks.
CIOs: Catalysts for Change
Transformation will require a new level of collaboration. CIOs must coordinate with other C-level executives and orchestrate their teams, processes, and disciplines—in addition to their IT systems. They must evolve their hiring and training procedures. And they must eliminate the domain-specific silos that have kept IT practices and practitioners disconnected from the business.
“CIOs need to open their minds and think differently,” Kerravala advises. “They must consider what is possible and become strategic leaders of the business. It requires vision, innovation, and speed. The ability to connect everything will change the way we work and redefine who wins and who loses. CIOs have the opportunity to lead these changes, helping establish the vision and turning it into strategy and action.”
And the CIO title? Don’t be surprised when the “I” in CIO stands for innovation.