The role of the CIO is increasingly being put under pressure. Information as data is one of the most valuable assets for any modern business, so the role of overseeing this and the technology that uses it is vital for companies in all sectors.
Secondly, there are further roles that can frequently overlap with the CIO – both in responsibility and in budget. Data officers, CMOs and HR professionals can often cut into the budgets for the CIO, making it all the more difficult for them to demonstrate value to the company.
CIOs need to have a cause, an idea or technology that they can champion and be known for bringing to their organisation – to be known as a superstar for adding real value.
Taking this into account, there are many different factors and scenarios that need to be considered when technology is being acquired by the CIO.
>See also: The 4 new roles of the CIO
Firstly, there is an issue of culture within a business that will always have a bearing on how technology can be sold into those who matter, and then translated through the organisation.
Are you a well established financial player? Do you work centrally or with deployed consultants and satellite offices? Are you a technology based up and comer? All of these different factors shape a business and give it its identity. If you don’t take an approach to technology that incorporates this, then problems will inevitably arise.
A second factor with a particular impact on technology is the current generations that are intermingling in the workplace. Baby boomers still hold a vast amount of senior positions in businesses, and have vastly different relationships to tech than the millennials – and now even Generation Z – that are entering the workplace.
Those of the younger generations have grown up with ever-present internet, the ability to work across multiple devices, and the notion of always being contactable. This has given the emerging workforce its fundamental appreciation for technology helping them to work smarter, whereas older employees have had to get used to each new devices, concepts or software and learn how these work each time.
If you are going to bring in a system that will add real value, then it must be shown to have clear advantages for all employees, regardless of age.
Similarly, it is just as important to be able to communicate the benefits throughout an organisation, regardless of the department that will be using it. This is where relaying information throughout an organisation is vital.
Imagine you are selling in a product that will impact the finances of a company and how this is processed through the back office. On initial viewing this would appear to only really be of use to the finance department, and it is pivotal that others can see how it will benefit them.
HR? Compliance is vital, and software will aid in making sure this is adhered to. Sales team? They want to be paid quickly and simply and have the means to do so. Procurement? The data can be used to analyse the best purchases to make and what partnerships will work best for the business. Ensure you relay this message through the business – a sure-fire way to start bringing employees on board with the new changes.
Previously, it was enough to focus on the technology and let it convince people that they were getting something fabulous. But to successfully bring in change you need to convince them of the business value that will be delivered.
Before you only needed to tell someone you had upgraded from the v2 processor to the v3. Now, you need to tell them how the v3 has twice as much memory and therefore can perform tasks quicker and come with better security.
This may seem like a vague example, but it demonstrates that the ability to demonstrate business value for any technologically-based purchase is now a universal requirement to getting your company and its major stakeholders on board.
It is also important to remember that people will be interested in the implementation and operation of what you are suggesting they use, and how easily this can be used by the rest of the business. In the last 15 or so years, the way that new technology is incorporated has become far easier through two ideas: the cloud, and software-based products.
Technology that is seen as antiquated can be a real drawback to businesses looking to work with the best clients and hire the best staff. People often lament how old-fashioned it is to input their expenses into a spreadsheet, or complete timesheets for their clients showing the activity that has been done, with this frustration meaning many people enquire about a company’s technology before agreeing to work with – or for – them.
Technology can reengineer this process, but efficiency and success will only come from user adoption. This new technology requires education, and a strong focus on the user experience.
If the CIO can bring a system to the table designed around what staff need, and then educate those staff in how to make the most of the platform, then this can gather significant buy in throughout the company.
The ability for software to be merged into a business’s current technology also means that two further advantages surface: time saved and intelligence through data.
Legacy is a key idea for those that head up information; the ability to have products that year on year can improve how their company is run. Data gathered through technology is key to this, and has a far wider reach than that of an employee – or team of employees for that matter.
If you are looking to analyse expenses and work out where money is being spent without value, or if partnerships that have been arranged aren’t being taken advantage of, then sifting through the years’ reports will be a tedious and long-winded process.
Highlight both the time saved by having technology to perform this task and to give you actionable intelligence. Whether you are speaking to the CEO or to the sales team, ensuring that the message of saving time and improvement comes through loud and clear to all could be the difference.
The most successful CIOs are those that embrace this, and actively look for new ways to benefit their company and provide real value back into the business.
New technology and platforms can give you the tools to make this happen – as long as you approach their implementation in the right way. By taking a considered, thoughtful approach to the product and how it can make a difference, CIOs can become business superstars in no time.
Sourced from Chris Baker, MD of UK enterprise, Concur