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Forrester's five key priorities ANZ CIOs must embrace in 2017

By Heather Wright
Wed 25 Jan 2017
FYI, this story is more than a year old

As the role of the CIO comes under threat with some organisations questioning its relevance in a digital era, Forrester offers up some tips on how CIOs can thrive.

Australian and New Zealand CIOs must step up to the plate and take an active leadership in their organisation’s digital business transformation in order for both the business – and the role of CIO – to thrive, according to Forrester.

A new report from the research company says the role of the CIO is under threat with some businesses across Australia and New Zealand starting to question whether the role has relevance in a digital era where technology drives the entire business.

Australia’s REA Group has eliminated the role, Forrester says, while other businesses are replacing traditional tech-focused CIOs with chief data officers or CTOs with digital business expertise or adding a customer experience flavour to ensure the CIO is customer-focused.

Despite this grim outlook, Forrester principal analyst Tim Sheedy says the role of the CIO is more important than ever, with CIOs crucial in providing the technology to enable digital transformation.

“Establishing a digital acceleration team helps drive digital business transformation, and Forrester believes that CIOs have a critical role to play in establishing such teams,” he says.

“CIOs need to empower their teams to help them and other business leaders set digital strategy, benchmark performance, set KPIs, provide common platforms and provide specialist resources that can help business units develop digital maturity by embracing a set of common standards while still tailoring their CX to specific market needs,” Sheedy says.

He says Australia and New Zealand are a little behind the curve on digital.

“There are still a lot of businesses that are yet to be convinced of making the leap to digital,” he says.

Sheedy says there are five key priorities local CIOs need to embrace in 2017.

Understand the current digital maturity to formulate a clear strategy

“If you haven’t jumped on the digital bandwagon yet, or even if you jumped on it recently, maybe it’s time to pause for a very short moment and understand your current maturity level.

“People are saying they need to do this, we need to do it better, but what is ‘this’? What is digital, what are the bits you need to do better, what are you doing well so far, where are challenges going to be – around culture, organisation, technology, metrics etc.

“You need to understand that as a starting point.”

Create or help drive the company’s digital business strategy

Sheedy says CIOs also need to be more actively involved in digital strategy, ideally as part of the business strategy.

“We always recommend you don’t create a digital strategy – create a business strategy that talks about your organisation as a digital organisation, because these are organisational wide changes you’re going to need to make.”

Sheedy says while the CIO may not lead the project, they need to be involved in driving the digital elements of the business strategy, advising on current challenges and technology.

“Where the CIO makes the biggest difference today in enabling a business to be digital, is to become fast.

“At the moment, technology typically doesn’t change that quickly,” he says, noting that drove the bimodal approach to technology with new business units or digital teams to ‘change quickly’ while the IT team continued plodding along.

“The reality is change and disruption can come from anywhere.

“Bimodal is a highly risky strategy. All change needs to be fast.”

Become the driving force behind digital operational excellence; and become actively involved with customer and employee journey mapping

Sheedy says the focus needs to be on ‘digital operational excellence’ – the idea of changing the operations of the IT department – and the wider business – to remove any operations that inhibit change happening at the rate the business and customer needs.

“Often that requires significant changes in the IT department. It’s reskilling, getting IT people to speak the language of the business and customer, it’s putting IT people in front of customers [to unnderstand the customer pain points]. They need to be much more externally focussed.”

He’s also advocating CIO’s become actively involved with customer and employee journey mapping.

“You may not be the person who does the whole customer journey map, but working with the other teams, understanding the employee journey to understand how technology can impact the productivity of the employee and the ability of the employee to meet the customer’s needs is important too.”

Change the tech team’s metrics to reflect the business you want to be

Sheedy says for many IT organisations, this is ‘a real and significant change’.

“They’re going to go from metrics like on budget, on time delivery to metrics like an increase in sales through the digital channel, happier customers using the mobile app, higher customer satisfaction through digital.

While traditionally most CIOs have said ‘don’t measure me on something I can’t control’, Sheedy says that’s no longer acceptable and CIOs can – and now must – control it.

“You go and sit down with the head of digital and the head of mobile and you work together to drive the right outcomes for the customer.

“If you’re building a mobile app to drive revenue then the CIO needs to be KPI’d on driving revenue for the mobile app, not just on delivery of the mobile app.”

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