The CIO in the new world order

Jayesh Shah, EVP & Head - Technology Initiatives, DHFL Financial Services Group | Tuesday, 22 March 2016, 05:17 IST

Chief Information Officers have traditionally been technologists and responsible for keeping the technology stack of the organization primed for business. However, increased and altered customer expectations are driving companies to transform and CIOs will have to be at the forefront of this. In the coming decade, technology is going to morph from being a utility service for business to a more strategic role of being a channel for disruption. Traditional, on the ground business houses are going to face challenges from startups and other business houses who incubate technology as their primary go-to-market strategy.

Nowhere is this truer than the Financial Services industry where technology is upending workflow and processes. Digital technology has turned business models in music and publishing topsy-turvy. It is a matter of time before this happens in the financial services sector as well, with digital distribution platforms, new product providers and alternative sources of capital.

Given this emerging landscape, CIOs are in a unique position to start providing that cutting edge using the digital space. Companies that successfully harness digital technology to serve customers will have a distinct competitive advantage.

For this, there needs to be strategic approach to decommissioning of legacy technology. The new IT organization will be expected to provide stability and efficiency, while driving innovation focused on time-to-market and rapid application development aligned with business units. Tech leaders will have to focus on initiatives in the areas of Internet of Things, Predictive & Cognitive analytics, and Business Intelligence to name a few. From the IT infrastructure perspective, business continuity planning & disaster recovery, data management including data loss prevention and information security will be the focus areas.

Given this expectation of a stable, yet nimble IT, the CIO can look at two concepts – Bimodal IT and DevOps. Bimodal IT, a term introduced by Gartner in 2014, talks of an IT organization construct with two flavors – Type 1 is a traditional IT operation focused on stability and efficiency, while Type 2 focuses on time-to-market. The Type 2 IT will bring DevOps to the fore. Born out of the need to improve IT service delivery agility, the DevOps movement emphasizes communication, collaboration & integration and promises speed of a start-up with results for the enterprise. 

CIOs are eventually going to be measured on business outcome KPIs, making them take more interest in the strategic and decision making aspects of business development.

Borrowing from Andy Grove’s famous book, ‘Only the Paranoid Survive’, I will conclude that the CIO’s role is at an inflection point and they will have to reset their priorities or perish.