Generally speaking now there are a number of skill or experiential areas we are asked for in most if not ALL CIO or IT Director assignments. These are “digital” and “big data” and both are of course related.
On the digital agenda what is now sought is the ability to utilise a systems solution for as much as possible in a business process map. In particular, pulling back from the consumer interface on the web into the business processes impacted with or associated with the consumer all the way back to product or service is the aim. Massive cost can be taken out, options for consumers can be enhanced (consider the success of the click and pick up approach in retail – John Lewis for example) and the impact of a customer led digital approach are clear. What is needed though are IT leaders who can occupy the front, middle and back offices successfully, and not just the back office. This requires a new and more complex array of personal attributes to undertake the role successfully.
Far from dissolving as we once thought, the CIO role now rises to the Board level as the whole shape of the business and the operations of all departments are transformed by technology. In many respects the CIO becomes the COO but COO plus.
Big data is of course the concomitant of more systematisation. The more computing underpins or drives process – the more data that can be collected about choices inferred or explicitly made. Insights can be gleaned that simply could not be arrived at without the data and the associated analytics. The CIO of 2014 therefore needs to rapidly become the focal point for data collection and analysis initiatives alongside marketing. This is a relatively new partnership and will involve total immersion in the business to help define and garner the analytics that will be helpful. Marketing and IT have rarely been close bedfellows but in 2014 they will start a new affair if they have not already done so.
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