The digital transformation journey has started. The business and IT landscape has significantly shifted over the years and the use of digital technologies to transform business is dramatically impacting every single sector and industry. However the success for CIOs and IT executives leading digitally transformative projects for their respective organizations rests on the technologies they are adopting and their ability in aligning it with their business goals and strategies -
According to Gartner’s 2018 CIO Agenda Report, growth tops the list of business priorities reported by CIOs for 2018. The results mirror the 2017 CEO Survey, in which 58 percent of respondents identified growth as their top priority. Other key priorities include digital business/digital transformation (cited by 17 percent), profit improvements, and innovation/new products (each cited by 10 percent).
Another study conducted by Telstra last year claims that 97% of organizations already have a formal strategy in place to manage disruption, led by a CIO and actively supported by the CEO. The pressure is then on the CIO to enable their organization to disrupt itself using technology – an approach commonly referred to as “digital transformation.” As a matter of fact, companies across Asia are set to spend US$16.5 billion on digital transformation projects from now till 2020.
It is true that businesses can't stop innovating. As disruption takes place and in order to catch up with the transformations happening in the industry’s landscape, it is upon organizations to either embrace the change or risk falling behind their competition.
Technology priorities of today’s CIO
As leaders prioritize their technology adoption and digital transformation, these five enterprise technologies represent their most urgent areas of need – Security, Cloud computing, IoT, Ai/cognitive computing and Mobile technologies and applications.
“This is going to be the year when Artificial Intelligence and Cloud are going to define the industry,” says Meetali Sharma, Corporate Risk & Information security leader- SDG Software. “With the emerging threats, security is also going to one of the focuses for the companies. Keeping that in mind, we have our GRC platform and our core focus would be to enhance that platform for AI and then moving into cloud while embedding big data and analytics into it. Since we are into information security, our focus will also be to sustain the security posture of the organization, build cyber resilience and for doing that we will be focusing on standards like ISO, CMMI and PCI.”
She further adds, “It is an agile world and technologies keep on changing; emerging threats and technologies are there. So if you are planning everything in a phased manner then it will be easier to move from one technology to the other. It has to be based on certain risk assessment and the result would be able to help you determine which technologies you need to adopt and when you need to plan those transitions.”
“Like any other organization, my organization is currently focused on 3 things - Artificial Intelligence, Big Data and Internet of Things. If you are in the information security field, you have to be on your toes and have to learn something new every day. Like if IoT is our focus, then we have to understand the security control for big data,” Ravinder Arora, Head, Information Security - IRIS Software.
Today, digital has become the quintessential platform for any customer to interact with businesses, before taking any other point of engagement. With global digital commerce revenue over $1 trillion annually, organizations view digital business as their fuel for growth. In the years to come, this might change again. Riding with this wave of change, a CIO has to see how best he can fit himself/herself in these situations that require adapting to new technological developments, business models and rising customer demands. It is also up to a CIO of how he/she can lead this innovation and capture the opportunity with their business colleagues and determine which side they play on in the great digital game of disruption.
Says Manish Gaur, Head, IT- Patanjali, “The priority for us is digitization, SCADA, adopting IoT in the company and information security. We also look at datacenter consolidation as another of our focus area. Whenever we adopt any new technology, we need to first check the gaps that are there in the infrastructure and so this becomes a continuous process. When we do continual checks and measurement of the process, we find the existing gaps. To meet those gaps, we require new technology. We keep on evaluating those technologies and see where they can fit into.”
“We have gone through a merger recently and the integration between the two organizations is a big priority for us,” says Vivek Ahuja, Head - IT – India, IDEMIA. “I do agree that quite a lot of good technologies are coming out in the market, and there are definitely advancements in that. We are using a lot of new technologies for our customer applications. So for that we prefer to use the cloud technologies. If we go to our public facing applications, we are using public cloud. Otherwise internally we are using lot of virtualization and hyper-converged infrastructure based on All-flash. Hyper-converged allows us to have a higher density of servers with low costs. We can expand out to multiple clusters of VMs.”
“As a company we are at present a growing organization and so like any other growing organization the top priority always remains in building a brand but other than that we believe in creating life-time relationships using our technologies. So that is a top priority for us. Adopting a new technology at least for us has not been a challenge because we have more than 200 people who have been supporting various kinds of technologies in UK and US markets. The processes that we have built around and the learnings that we have got has helped us to embrace technologies very quickly,” observes Dr. Rajeev Papneja, COO & EVP, ESDS Software Solution.
“Some of the priorities that we plan for this year are primarily solar IoT security - this is again a challenging field wherein the security of the IoT devices is a big challenge. IoT, big data, analytics, and blockchain are going to be disrupting technologies and are also going to sustain this year,” says Bohitesh Misra, Vice President - IT & BI, Simpa Networks.
Naveen Gulati, Corporate VP & Group CIO, Fourth Dimension Solutions Ltd says that for them their key priorities have been towards machine learning and artificial intelligence. “We are into large scale projects which are globally diversified and geographically into various territories which are not easily reachable. Some of the initiatives which we are working on are around optimizing our supply chain, getting real-time information through various sources when using embedded and IoT technologies and how predictive algorithms using AI can predict where things are about to go wrong so that our project teams take proactive decisions. This has really been helping us in bringing in efficiencies towards our work processes, more value to our clients and also optimizing our operations,” he says.
Some of the technologies that his company is eyeing and see them as new emerging digital disruptors are in the field of IoT, and how these embedded technologies can be integrated using cloud and mobility devices. “We also see how these technologies are actually enabling our people who are our ‘feet on street’ by bringing out real time information for them through our core CRM and HRMS systems and how they can integrate the plethora of IT out there and bring in real-time analytics to our management. These analytics have been helping our people in taking various proactive decisions and bring in insights that were never really there. So these are very exciting times to be leading IT from the forefront,” says Naveen.
“As a CIO, my first priority is to make business easy for my distributors and customers, so that we have a seamless reach of our business to them. The topmost priority for us is the mobile application, which makes them feel connected with the business; second is having the artificial intelligence to it so that they can proactively analyze where their individual strength is and how they can reach to the next level in a better way,” says Jyoti Chopra, Director - IT, Glaze.
“Initially it was very challenging as the distributors are in the tier 2 & 3 cities and touching through digital end is like touching their nerves and they were not ready to accept these technologies. They were like – you do not want us to be in your business and so you are bringing in these technologies. But now we have reached a level where they are a part of our business that is driven through technology. They are the ones who are suggesting to us now what technologies they want and giving us examples of where they need those technologies,” she says.
“We are already in the digitalized format and all our 22 plants are connected on the MPLS (Multiprotocol Label Switching). We are on Office 365 and are able to access our emails even remotely. We have also implemented UTM so that no one can target our systems and invade into our environment. We also have the Advanced threat protection (ATP) features with sandboxing, and so we are totally equipped with security. Though we cannot say that we are 100% secured, because no one can assure that, but we are able to track the problem for using sandboxing. So anything that comes into the environment gets reported to the concerned OEM and we receive the message telling us whether we are infected or not,” says Sunil Tripathy, Dy. Manager - Corp IT, Jindal Saw Ltd.
“I try to evaluate the things of what is good for me and what is not,” he further says. “But as time goes on, there comes new challenges which you have to face it. But yes we know we are ahead on our journey.”
It will also be wise to note here that no department in any organization has undergone such profound change as IT. The shift in the nature of the CIO’s role is most influenced by the changing technologies of social, mobile, cloud computing and big data and analytics. With these profound changes, the CIO has the opportunity to move from traditional IT roles to become more involved in business strategy.
“A CIO faces many challenges. Security challenge is a major challenge CIOs face in any of the organizations. There are many technology buzzwords coming in and the most prominent is the cloud solutions. Customers can be seen moving from on-premises to the cloud. And this is the priority of our company as well,” points out Shailendra Choudhary, Vice President & Head-I.T., Interarch Building Products.
He adds further, “Adoption of emerging & new technologies have to be done by the CIOs. The demand of the current market is such that unless you go for digitization of the company, it will not be on the growth path. So digitization of my company is also another focus area for us.”
Also, with IT operations largely automated, CIOs today no longer need to monitor and manage organizational infrastructure at a granular level, which also means that the technology leaders have now more time to focus on the concepts that really matter - agility, innovation and business value.
Going forward, CIOs expect their jobs to change due to digitalization. While world-class IT delivery role is a worldwide phenomenon, it will increasingly take up less of the CIO's time. Respondents believe that the two biggest transformations in the CIO role will be to become a change leader, followed by assuming increased and broader responsibilities. Inevitably, the job of CIO will extend beyond the traditional delivery roles to other areas of the business, such as innovation management and talent development.
2018 will see a fundamental shift in the role of the CIO in businesses that recognize the value of instant, limitless scalability and immediate access to innovation. Postmodern CIOs will -
• Move from operating IT to innovating business operations
• Swap owning software for leveraging interlocking cloud ERP solutions across an ecosystem
• Shift from managing teams to growing an inclusive, confident workforce
• Change the focus from keeping the lights on to delivering differentiation.