Today the role of the CIO is perceived as a strategic business position, tasked with driving change and transformation within their organisation instead of exclusively focusing on IT operations.
It’s one of the most dynamic executive roles which requires constant development and adaptation to digital ecosystems, business model innovations, technology demands and stakeholders’ expectations.
Adapting to tight budgets and focusing on internal operations are now just part of a long list of duties expected from a CIO.
Driving business operations and leading innovation and transformation are regarded as extremely desired skills.
In an interview with our sister title CIO UK, SThree CIO Lance Fisher explained the change in nature of his job: "I split IT into two. 'Run the business', and 'grow the business’. You have to learn and understand the business and its competitive advantage, understand how your competitors run their businesses and then look to deliver competitive advantage. I firmly believe as a CIO you are the glue. You need to connect IT to the business, vendors and your clients."
To drive a successful transformation CIOs should pay special attention to emerging technologies that have the potential of impacting positively in the running of their organisations.
There’s a lot of buzz coming out from that field but keeping a cool head and discerning what’s beneficial and what is not are indispensable considerations to avoid a fiasco.
Sometimes is not a matter of bringing a revolutionary change but an evolutionary one.
Which emerging technologies should you look for?
According to Forbes, C-Suite executives, including CIOs, should keep an eye on the following emerging technologies: business and robotic process automation; artificial intelligence (AI); blockchain; cryptocurrency; Internet of Things (IoT); virtual/augmented Reality (VR/AR); augmented analysis; mobile everything; wearables; and cybersecurity and privacy.
In the case of blockchain, IBM reckons that it “will do for transactions what the Internet did for information by creating an open, scalable and secure environment for organisations to do business and drive innovation”.
Although each of the above technologies has its own benefits and business transformation potential, they also require additional training and skills which are not always easy to find, particularly when it comes to AI or VR/AR.
In Southeast Asia, the most prominent technologies emerging as a consequence of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0) are blockchain, AI and IoT.
These new technologies are having a significant impact on how people live, work and communicate, and precocious businesses and startups in the region are not missing the opportunity to implement them.
It goes without saying that emerging technologies keep constantly evolving and what was a game changer yesterday it might be completely passé tomorrow.
By following relevant developments, building contacts within the industry professionals and maintaining a curious eye, you can guarantee to never miss the tools that can make help achieve your operational goals and improve your business’ performance.
How organisations have implemented emerging tech
Earlier this week Indonesian hotel chain Alila announced the deployment of Infor HMS for its operations, a cloud-based property management software.
Designed to increase business agility and to enhance efficiencies, Infor HMS is an emerging cloud technology system that exists as a fully-integrated service hub which combines enterprise power and a streamlined workflow.
Ajay Gamre, Head of IT at Alila Hotels and Resorts explained why is it important for organisations to implement new technologies, in this case a shift to the cloud: “As we continue to grow as a business, it is paramount that our systems keep pace and integrate seamlessly together. For this, we wanted to roll out a true cloud-ready application that has a proven cloud delivery record in Asia Pacific, and can scale and offer flexibility in integration.”
Lufthansa CDO Christian Langer uses machine learning to determine ticket prices, determine flight schedules and plan staffing requirements.
The airline has also created a predictive maintenance platform called Aviatar that analyses data from aircraft parts to continuously assess the condition of each component.
"We have close to 2,000 aircraft in the Aviatar who are constantly monitored," said Langer. "Every second we ingest something like 60,000 data points in our systems coming from all these aircraft in the air, parts in the workshops or aircraft on the ground. We combine all this data and build our models and are able to predict the future behaviour of this specific spare part."
Another example comes from Save the Children’s CIO Karl Hoods, a keen enthusiast of blockchain.
The charity is developing in collaboration with its child safeguarding director a proof of concept called 'the humanitarian passport', which will enable Save the Children UK to "respond quicker in deploying staff during emergency situations”.
Challenges to implementing emerging tech
The main challenges that can become a significant obstacle for CIOs at the time of implementing emerging technologies are budget, training and approval from the board.
In order to sell their proposals to the board and get a receive an adequate budget, CIOs need to simplify the inner mechanics of the proposed technologies as much as possible.
Avoiding technical and IT jargon is always desirable, especially when it comes to complex platforms such as blockchain.
If the board sees the proposal as too complicated or obscure, it’s less likely that they will give it a green light.
Presentations, videos and infographics are always a good way of making complex ideas easier to digest.
Examples of concrete uses and how it will benefit the running of the business will always work in favour.
According to Gartner’s Insights from the 2018 CIO Agenda Report, respondents named AI as the most problematic technology to implement, followed by IoT and cybersecurity. This is mainly because of the lack of skills needed to exploit these technologies.
Investment in training and nurturing talent are as important as the technologies themselves as having the most beautiful fountain pen won't be of any use unless you know how to write.