6th July, 2012
The Quest is on…
Over many years, the IT function has evolved from a mere transactional tool into a pervasive, integral element of virtually every aspect of doing business. This transformation has constituted a fundamental, structural change in different arenas and has put IT performance at the top of the CEO's agenda at enterprises. Yet most institutions are facing a major IT problem: How to cope with growing complexity? This complexity can stem from numerous sources, such as funding models that make it difficult to pursue long-term, low-RoI projects like IT application consolidation, short-term business decisions whose cumulative IT ramifications become problematic over time, old and inefficient legacy systems that are never refreshed.
It is one of the key issues driving CIOs these days. Eighty percent of 3,000 CIOs around the world pointed to the need to simplify projects and slash the complexity of internal processes, according to a recent study by IBM Institute of Business Value. The reason is basic and yet unique to our age: The proliferation of data. Our societies and economies are overrun with information. Yet, data is the currency of success for today's business. Because of this deluge of data, the rate of change and amount of complexity are accelerating at a dizzying pace. Remaining competitive and getting ahead comes down to mastering this data, untangling internal processes, and making information available how, when, and where it is needed by employees, partners, and customers. How CIOs are responding comes out loud and clear in the survey.
Some 60% are adopting cloud computing, or nearly double the number 2 years ago, in their drive to disseminate information more widely among clients and partners, streamline business and share information more effectively. Almost 75% say mobile computing is a game changer that they're turning to help employees get access to more information more easily, provide entree into new markets, and keep their companies relevant even as market dynamics shift. And 83% say business intelligence and analytics are key to helping them as they look for new ways to make sense and act on the data they're collecting. Yet, while the technologies that CIOs are turning to reveal the tactics that they're using to knock complexity out of their operations, what is even more telling is the overarching strategies that they're outlining for the future and the priorities that they're establishing.
“Data has become the lifeblood for the success of every company doing business today. And so simplification has become crucial as well”
Because for the first time, the CIO's vision of the future is almost identical with that of the CEO. The top 3 areas that they're focusing on are strengthening relationships with customers, developing the skills of employees, and gaining insight and intelligence. What that means is that CIOs aren't simply in the business of helping run companies. CIOs can't afford to deploy technologies that simply make operations more cost effective. They need technology that can also provide insights that help companies grow. In the end, CIOs are zeroing in on simplification so that they can focus on the business of creating more business. It's no coincidence that all 3 of these priorities share a basic tenet: Help a company grow. The job of a CIO no longer stops and starts with making operations more cost effective. Instead, a CIO's overarching mandate is to use technology to open up new businesses, propel productivity, and spark innovation.
Collecting, Analyzing, and Acting on Information
It's also no coincidence that these 3 future priorities that CIOs and CEOs share is based on collecting, analyzing, and acting on information. Collaboration services help companies track employee expertise and bring together employees around the world to work together on projects. Social media and analytics are enabling businesses to get closer to customers and turn them into partners. Using tiny sensors and intelligent software is turning supply chains, warehouses, even oceans into networks of things that can track and make sense of information. Practically, all this means that CIOs are turning to a vast array of technologies so that they can make the data they're collecting speak. These range from client analytics to visual dashboards to collaboration technology. Simplification is no longer just one of the tasks that CIOs have to tackle. It is not just a way to increase efficiency anymore. Nor is it a way of simply improving productivity. Data has become the lifeblood for the success of every company doing business today. And so simplification has become crucial as well.
- Eighty percent of 3,000 CIOs around the world feel the need to simplify a project and its internal processes
- Some 60%, ie, nearly double the number 2 years ago are adopting cloud computing
- Top 3 areas of focus for CIOs are strengthening relationships with customers, developing the skills of employees, and gaining insight and intelligence
The author is director, software group, IBM, India/South Asia