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Championing the cause: Best practise for CIOs to become superstars

The role of the CIO is coming under increasing pressure. As organisations become more dynamic and with a multitude of new job roles coming on board also feeding into the overall tech strategy, from Chief Data Officers to Chief Marketing Officers, it can feel like the remit of the CIO is becoming somewhat disintermediated.

In order to demonstrate value and longevity, the natural reaction would be to try to get involved in as many projects as possible. But to affect real change, rather than trying to tackle many problems, CIOs should arguably focus on one core business issue that has business-wide ramifications and spearhead the tackling of this issue. By driving through a successful change to the business, CIOs can demonstrate value and create their legacy. With this in mind, there are two overarching factors that need to be considered when technology is being acquired by the CIO.

Firstly, you should consider the issue of culture, as it will affect how technology is bought and implemented. Are you a well-established company in your industry? Do you work centrally or with deployed consultants and satellite offices? Are you a technology-based up and comer? All of these different factors shape a business and give it its identity. If you don’t take an approach to technology that incorporates this, then problems will inevitably arise.

A second factor is the conflict of interests between generations in the workplace. Baby boomers still dominate senior positions and have vastly different relationships with tech than the millennials and Generation Z. Younger generations have grown up with ever-present Internet, the ability to work across multiple devices, and the notion of always being contactable. This has given the emerging workforce its fundamental appreciation for technology helping them to work smarter, where older employees have had to constantly re-educate themselves. If you are going to bring in a system that will add real value, then it must be shown to have clear advantages for all.

Both of these issues will impact user engagement, and therefore success. Having worked closely with many CIOs over the years, I’ve observed some best practices that help to ensure new technologies are implemented with ease:

Communication - It is important that you are able to communicate the benefits of technology throughout an organisation, regardless of the department that will be using it. Imagine you are selling in a product that will impact the finances of a company and how this is processed through the back office. On the surface this would appear to be of use exclusively to the finance department. But the HR department, the sales team and procurement must be made aware of how this product will benefit them through, for example, its ability to aid in compliance. Relaying this message is a sure-fire way to start bringing employees on board with new changes.

• The business value of technology - Previously, technology could effectively sell itself. But to successfully bring in change you need to convince everyone of the business value which will be delivered. Before you only needed to tell someone you had upgraded. Now, you need to outline exactly what benefits the update brings with it. Demonstrating business value for any technology-based purchase is now a universal requirement to getting your company and its major stakeholders on board.

• Ease of use - The implementation and operation of new technology, and how easily this can be used by the rest of business is now very important. In the last fifteen or so years, the way that new technology is incorporated has become far easier through two ideas: the cloud, and software-based products - eliminating the need for new hardware and expensive versions or upgrades. This in turn has meant that enterprise IT has more scope to replicate the consumer user experience within the enterprise, as a result take up and engagement has greatly increased. Implementing tools of the ‘old guard’ creates barriers and ultimately, employees will only create work arounds, undermining the entire deployment.

Staff-centric - If the CIO can introduce a staff-centric system and educate the workforce effectively, then they can expect significant buy-in throughout the company as well potential hires.

Once a system has been deployed and is up and running, that’s when its true value starts to shine though. Whilst the original aim for implementation may have been cost, speed, scale or productivity, the ultimate return on investment comes from the actionable data that the platform delivers. Data is the window into your enterprise, open up that window, take a look inside and you’ll be surprised at the number of underlying issues that you spot and can take proactive action to rectify. It could be that more than half of execs are booking outside of expense policy, costing you millions each year or it might be that you’re able to more easily spot fraud. Whatever it is, use the data you’re provided with and the benefits to the business will be exponential. You’ll be a superstar in no time.

Chris Baker, MD of UK Enterprise, Concur

Image Credit: Shutterstock/watcharakun