A fitting motto for the modern CIO is the adage, “Times of great change also bring great opportunity.” The new world of mobile apps, cloud services, and the Internet of Things is reshaping how all industries get business done. What’s more, technology-first market newcomers are challenging incumbents with radically new user experiences and business models. Uber has laid the traditional taxi dispatch model to waste, Airbnb has brought automation, distribution and scale to a cottage industry of vacation rentals, and JustEat keeps a healthy, high quality and economical meal just a few taps away.
In this new world order, IT is the function that’s best positioned to help businesses stay competitive. As a result, the CIO is increasingly expected to take responsibility for organization-wide goals like sales growth, stepped up efficiency, maximized productivity, and improved customer experiences. This puts heavy pressure on established enterprises to adapt, replacing legacy business models, processes, and experiences with technology-enabled ones. It’s up to IT leaders to drive that adaption, and they must do so quickly – otherwise, software will eat them alive.
Take Adobe, for example. Over the past three years, CIO Gerri Martin-Flickinger and her IT team have been central in evolving Adobe from a software product company into a services business. Martin-Flickinger has led key decisions involving subscription pricing, release cycle timing and sales engagement models – all considerations that looked drastically different from, or weren’t considerations at all – when Adobe shipped its products in boxes.
Transformation stories like Adobe’s point to the increasing necessity of CIOs to step up to the plate. IT’s expanded new role is forward-thinking, and that means today’s CIOs must thrive in the face of challenges. When the sales department requests a new application to better manage customer interactions, when operations asks to automate service processes or when an organization is transitioning from a hardware company to a service business, it’s IT that must deliver.
More than ever before, IT professionals have the opportunity to lead high value initiatives, both large and small, that are fundamental to business. They are revenue generators in their own right, and it’s increasingly their responsibility to embrace such a role. In this way, an alternative title for the CIO might be “Chief Business Enabler.”
Of course, the rising IT opportunity doesn’t come without challenges. When you put more technology in the hands of employees, customers, partners, and suppliers, you must also find new approaches for the management, governance, security, and administration of these new tools. Here at Okta, we are continually inspired by IT leaders who see the massive opportunities in cloud and mobile and strive to transform organizations, products, and services to make their companies better. No matter your function, it’s time to invite your CIO out for lunch. Bon appétit!