We are in an age of pervasive computing.
New technologies are having a growing ripple effect across work, study, social and private activities. Technology is now a core part of our life, everywhere and anywhere, blurring previously well-defined borders between different aspects of our day, and shifting power from organisations to individuals.
Technology has evolved to a point where it enables us to move from digital transactions to digital relationships. By deriving deep insights into personal preferences from online interactions, paradoxically we can know and treat our customers, on a massive scale, as unique individuals again.
This new level of potential digital intimacy represents an immense competitive advantage waiting to be realised, but challenges organisations to pioneer new customer engagement strategies.
Digital innovations are impacting core business processes, workforce enablement, delivery models, customer experiences and, most importantly, established business models.
Organisations are being forced to pre-emptively disrupt from within, or risk being unprepared for and unable to respond to external disruptions. These forces are shaking the foundations of all businesses today, and it is essential we reconsider our strategies in the context of this new digital landscape.
Consequently, expectations of the person charged with leading the enterprise technology function are also rapidly changing.
Organisations continue to depend on secure, reliable, efficient and stable platforms, but the traditional approach of the functional IT head will not meet the new digital multidimensional challenge.
What the market is now demanding from CIOs is deep capability and contribution as digital leaders. This has created a real identity crisis at the CIO level, and we are witnessing the consequences of this in the Australian IT market at the moment.
Preserving a ‘service provider’ mentality will put many CIOs in a very fragile position.
Transformational leadership is needed now. CIOs must help businesses quickly adapt to this new, still forming digital environment and succeed in the face of rapid, ubiquitous technological change.
The market expects a new breed of digital leader who is focused on enterprise strategy and not solely on technology. Rather than only implementing foundational enterprise platforms, the primary focus must be on orchestrating complex digital ecosystems to deliver premium experiences to customers.
New business value will be created through inspiring digital experiences, and it is therefore essential that digital leaders build a culture of sustainable enterprise change, embrace innovation, and take an outside-in perspective.
For the technology leader this is a time for courage and deep conviction.
For many it will mean professional reinvention, as it is essential to move well beyond ‘back of house’ IT operations, infrastructure and platforms.
The CIO role now must be to assist the business to reinvent itself from the front-end for the “connected” generation of customers.
This is the time to be a forceful innovator, with a very clear vision of how technology will transform your business, and with the muscle to make it happen.
This is the first of a series of posts by guest columnist William Confalonieri on the subject of digital leadership and the role of the CIO. Stay tuned for some fresh perspectives later this week.