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The top 10 strategic CIO issues for 2016

25 January 2016 02:57 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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The toughest job in corporate America, says Oracle CEO Mark Hurd, is the chief information officer’s (CIO). While I agree with Hurd’s assessment, I also believe that business-minded, forward-looking CIOs have an incredible opportunity to play leading roles in the digital/physical revolution that is transforming every facet of our lives.

CIOs of the world, it’s time to jump into this revolution fearlessly and joyfully because your backgrounds, your perspectives, your expertise and your imaginations are needed desperately by your companies as they attempt to engage deeply in this richly blended digital/physical mix—or risk slipping into a nonstop decline marked by unfixable difficulties, growing irrelevance and ultimately, oblivion.

As Sunday says, “This is the most challenging time in history to be a CIO, because in order to survive, organisations need to embrace new technologies at an unparalleled pace. But by the same token, CIOs have never had a better opportunity to add value to their organisations—if they embrace the challenge.”
Top 10 strategic CIO issues for 2016

1. Create new revenue streams. The digitization of our everyday lives opens up huge possibilities for IT-inspired innovation in new products, new services, new data-as-a-product offerings and other innovations that enhance customer engagement while also boosting revenue.

2. Create a new can-do culture. Cloud computing and the ongoing explosion of social/mobile services offer CIOs superb building blocks for demonstrating to business units around the world that the IT organisation has permanently shed its “Dr. No” persona, with the initials “IT” now representing what the CIO’s team really stands for: innovation/transformation.

3. Create dazzling—and relevant—new apps. What percentage of the IT organisations is now focused on building customer-centric apps? How does that figure compare to last year? How much will it grow in 2016? World-class CIOs will find ways to transform their teams into engines of customer engagement, with app creation at the centre.

4. Evangelize the business benefits of cloud computing. Are you talking to the CMO about SOA or about the lifetime value of customers? In the cloud, product-development cycle times are shorter, customer trends can be spotted more quickly, top performers can cocreate career-development plans and the CFO can stop being a historian. Are you telling these stories clearly and passionately?

5. Evangelize the power of digital business. As GE CIO Jim Fowler noted above, the marriage of digital capabilities with traditional products and services opens up big possibilities for creating new value for customers—new insights into how products are performing, which new services are most profitable, where to promote certain products at certain times and which high-performing people are at risk of leaving.

6. Transform traditional ideas/silos of “What we do.” Per the opening quotation of this article, wearable tech is starting to turn the medical field upside down, and we’re seeing digitally activated shelves in retail, intelligent sensors revolutionizing preventive maintenance, ingestible medications, driverless cars, smart clothing and much more. How can the CIO disrupt traditional thinking within her company by showcasing what already is, as well as what is possible?

7. Transform customer engagement. A while back, the newly named CIO of one of Asia’s leading airlines described his company’s eye-popping realization that top customers desired zero human interaction until they were actually on the plane. What customers really want is often greatly at odds with what we as businesses are accustomed to—or comfortable—delivering. In 2016, CIOs must help lead the way in bridging this gap and driving customer-centric engagements.

8. Transform decision-making from gut-level to data-driven. Think of the astonishing volumes of data residing within large organisations—and think how few of those valuable assets are being exploited to enhance the decision-making ability of employees at all levels of the company. CIOs have a perfect opportunity to work with business leaders to unlock those data assets and put them to work in delivering real-world, real-time insights that create success for the business, for customers and for employees.

9. Accelerate the reversal of the 80/20 budget trap via cloud computing. Before cloud computing, the #1 enemy of the CIO was the economic reality that about 80 percent of his IT budget would be consumed by low-value maintenance and integration because cloud computing pushes that burden over to cloud vendors, CIOs can liberate huge portions of their budgets and reallocate them to projects centred on growth and customer engagement. The faster this happens, the better.

10. Accelerate deployment of world-class cybersecurity. The traditional IT operating model was a security nightmare because IT environments were made up of thousands of disparate components cobbled together, with each piece requiring its own unique security protocols. In the cloud, CIOs have the opportunity to flip that model from thousands of vulnerabilities to a single, unified, top-to-bottom cybersecurity stack where the cloud vendor shoulders that burden. (Oracle believes security has to be built in at every layer of the cloud stack and that’s become a competitive differentiator for Oracle Cloud.) And remember, cybersecurity is a journey, not a destination. As Sunday has said, “your cybersecurity capabilities need to evolve continuously in order to meet an ever-more sophisticated and ever-evolving threat landscape. Having world-class cybersecurity means having the ability to detect and remediate today’s threats, while maintaining the capability to morph to meet the needs of tomorrow.”

(Bob Evans is Senior Vice President and Chief Communications Officer for Oracle)
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