An addition to the CIO portfolio

You are no longer just supporting the business in improving efficiency, processes and standardisation. You should be thinking about what you should be doing to add total revenue to the organisation, how to help the business grow.

This, in a nutshell, is what Gartner analyst Bard C Papegaaij says should be the key focus of CIOs in the upcoming months.

Papegaaij says the shift from sustaining – “keeping the lights on” – to growing the business – “thinking about revenue” – is effectively an entirely different model for today’s CIOs.

In pragmatic terms, what does this mean for CIOs? “Concentrate technology priorities on the customer experience,” he advises. This means investments on technologies that help attract and retain customers, improve marketing and sales, expand and improve customer channels like social media and CRM.

The focus is growth in several directions, says Papegaiij. “New markets, new customers, getting more value out of the money that has been invested.”

For CIOs in the public sector, a key task is improve customer experience. People must feel you are providing services, and not putting up barriers. He cites the case of a tax office that had a rethinking of how it approached people and how it could make it more pleasant for them to pay taxes.

The task may not be straightforward as this CIO mission might need to be done amidst static or just slightly increased budgets, and rising operational costs. CEOs will expect you to create initiatives to support growth but will not give IT more money to do it, notes the Gartner analyst.

Do not drop the internal focus, he says, but add the external focus on growth. “Remove distortion, remove duplication, reduce cost.”

Papegaaij shares an approach CIOs can take when they are asked to do a project. Ask how this project will add to the customer experience. If none, should we be doing it? We need to educate the business to use this question as a filter, he says.

At the same time CIOs should also be vocal about recouping some of the resources they have freed up through technology, which can be funnelled back to IT to be used on innovation projects. “Fight for it if you have to,” says Papegaaij.

Finally, CIOs must be able to provide metrics to show how the technology has contributed to business growth — and not be shy in presenting them to business peers. “Brag about it,” advises Papegaaij.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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