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Published on 2019-01-22

An Outlook on the Changing Role of the Chief Information Officer in the Digital Age

January 22, 2019

By Dan Albright, Managing Partner, Infosys Consulting

The role of the CIO has changed dramatically since the start of the digital age, and in 2019 it will become even more critical for CIOs to focus on imperatives that effectively transform their role. Prior to the influx of astonishing technological advances, the CIO was often viewed as a back-office operative whose role consisted of guaranteeing various data pipes were connected and helping to avert the manufacturing process from downtime and disaster.

Cut to the digital age where incredible technological advancements are quickly transforming the world of manufacturing. New developments in processes, automation, connectivity, and algorithms have quickly infiltrated new apps, devices and platforms, parsing data at an incredible speed. This torrent of data and information brings with it a wealth of untapped opportunities and harnessing them into actionable insights is a key differentiator for manufacturers to gain a competitive edge in the market.

The organizations that can rapidly recognize and adapt both their business models and manufacturing operations to this new environment, 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).

The following are seven key areas where CIOs should focus efforts in order to drive future success.

Focus on Integrated Services

In the digital age, a CIO’s success is measured not only by what he or she builds, but also by how services are integrated. 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 requires leveraging the shared services model, where possible. Additionally, he or she must also look outward and understand the services requirements of customers – in other words, the Servitization of products.

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.

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 CMO, CDO, CEO and COO is key.

Align your Digital Strategy

The CIO is often 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.

Remove Silos

The legacy, siloed 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.

Calibrate the Balance

The importance of network effects continues 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 customers, partners and employees, making themselves incredibly easy to do business with.

Combine Standardization with Decentralization

Perhaps the single most powerful step CIOs can take is 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 with the potential to dramatically increasing speed, scale and quality of the manufacturing operation.

Dan Albright
Managing Partner, Infosys Consulting
Dan has 25 years of management consulting experience across the retail, CPG and distribution industries. He currently manages the North American digital supply chain and operations practice at Infosys Consulting in the U.S. 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 was and SVP at Capgemini Consulting, overseeing the North American consumer packaged goods, retail, and distribution service practice.



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