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Responsible AI, data and innovation key to digital transformation in 2022

By Shannon Williams, Wed 15 Dec 2021

Responsible AI, data and innovation will be some of the leading trends in digital transformation in 2022, according to Genpact.

Sanjay Srivastava, chief digital officer for Genpact, has predicted hot industry trends for the coming year. 

As the role and skills of CIO evolve, it requires a balance of being an outsider and an insider.

"As digital becomes the driving force behind business transformation, CIOs are increasingly co-creating new business models and future-ready companies," Srivastava says.

"This shift requires innovating at the intersection of the people, process, data, and technology spectrum."

Srivastava says as the CIO role evolves, it requires an outside-in and inside-out mindset. 

"As an outsider, CIOs must discover, embrace, and curate technology, ideate what needs to change, and objectively think through new approaches to problems. 

"As an insider, CIOs need to establish credibility to lead large-scale change management from the ground up," he says.

"Balancing this outside and inside approach to transformation is fundamentally complex. CIOs will be challenged to drive productivity, increase efficiency, and spur innovation without this combination of skills."

Technology for business becomes mainstream
Srivastava says technology is no longer the long pole in the tent. 

"Whether its AI, analytics, automation, cloud, or ML, technology is now a means to an end. CIOs must focus on business transformation enabled by digital technology," he says.

"As CIOs increasingly integrate advanced technologies into more aspects of the business, they face several challenges, including maintaining comprehensive business controls and a lack of collaboration between IT and business functions."

Srivastava says for CIOs to overcome these challenges, it is not enough simply to have access to the CEO, but rather to have a seat at the table in influencing the CEO agenda. 

"The most successful CIOs require regular CEO meetings, not just reporting lines," he says.

 Frequent access to the CEO makes all the difference in CIOs ability to leverage combined business and technology expertise to influence the company's strategic business agenda.

Responsible AI is a must
Not surprisingly, AI is on CIOs' agendas. In fact, Genpact recently conducted a global study with MIT Sloan CIO Symposiumin which nearly half (48%) of the 500 CIOs surveyed said AI is their No. 1 investment priority. 

Srivastava says there will be large systemic disruptions and, therefore, large benefits to those who lead with AI. But along with that comes a responsibility to set up guidelines and transparency in CIOs work.

"Planning to build industrialised AI systems as opposed to proof of concepts needs to happen early on," he says.

"Similarly, building ethics into the governance from the start is critical. In the long run, ethics will become an essential part of AI. Data itself has privacy issues and can be biased. Algorithms may have inadvertent bias built-in, so businesses must use AI in an ethically prudent manner. Planning for governance upfront as opposed to adding it at the end is essential."

Srivastava says key to getting AI ethics right is bringing in oversight that is independent of the AI project because it can reduce unintended bias, constrain it to the proper use case, and design for inclusion and comprehensiveness. 

"In the end, most companies, like a financial audit, will bring AI ethics as a board agenda item."

Data as a foundation for transformation
Being a data-led organisation is imperative to success, Srivastava says.

"CIOs agree on the need to make data-driven decisions to realise business value. That requires making data a first-class citizen," he says. 

"AI and ML are the top technologies that will help CIOs achieve their goals, and the top choice for investment if they had additional financial resources. These technologies allow CIOs to make the most of the data at their disposal, generating predictive insights for more informed decision-making. Going forward, the top three things for CIOs to prioritise are strategy, data literacy and AI."

Innovating with the cloud
All CIOs will prioritise cloud over the coming year, according to Genpact's CIO study, because they realise the cloud is about innovation more than cost savings. 

"The focus now is on layers 3-5 and building a future-proof and instinctive enterprise. That requires the ability to respond and continuously improve as an endless cycle," Srivastava says.

"Key to cloud-based innovation is data-driven digital networks. Hyperscalers like Amazon AWS, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure are powering the dominant platforms like ServiceNow, which are partnering across industries like automotive, financial services, and healthcare. They are connecting massive networks and winning on data supremacy as they figure out new monetisation models," he says.

Srivastava says enterprises should start with their desired business outcome. 

"Then, CIOs should focus on how to restructure, reimagine, and reengineer their overall portfolio to deliver sustainable competitive advantage. The cloud becomes the enabler, the delivery engine that makes that happen," he says.

"Now is the time to educate board members on the impact of technology like the cloud. Help them understand the possibilities of new business models, operating models, and monetisation that the cloud enables."

Future of work mega shift
"The future of work meaning remote working, and all the challenges associated with it arrived ahead of schedule due to the pandemic," Srivastava says. 

"To support this mega shift going forward, companies need to create resilient and agile work models and focus on employee experience and engagement. 

"Key to success is building and driving a cohesive culture," he says.

"That involves rallying teams around a shared purpose, focusing on employee well-being, and driving diversity, equality, and inclusion and community impact."

Srivastava says technology needs to be at the heart of any solution. 

"Companies must adopt and embrace artificial intelligence, machine learning, and other advanced technologies in their HR operations. These technologies are at the heart of capturing employee sentiment, talent analytics, network building and serendipity, continuous learning, and redeploying talent."

Unlocking sustainability with data
Srivastava says the increased focus on data heading into 2022 is critical because after a long period of disruption and uncertainty, customers, employees, and investors increasingly expect organisations to focus on long-term value creation for all stakeholders. 

"With this new mandate, leaders have turned to data-driven insights to build resilient, purpose-led organisations that prioritise communities, employees, and the environment alongside clients," he says.

"One of the biggest data technology trends to watch in the upcoming year is harnessing enterprise data and assessing stakeholder expectations to understand where the business is at risk from climate change and where the business needs to act to become more sustainable," Srivastava says.

"As we think about shaping the future for good, Genpact recommends three steps to generating data-driven insights that help solve large, complex transformational problems to achieve sustainability: establish a foundation of data, turn that data into insights, and invest in change management and the user experience."

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