As technology changes rapidly, so does the CIO’s role
September 30, 2019
Today, every CIO—and indeed every business executive—is thinking about the rate of change in technology. Naturally, all this change means the role of the CIO needs to change, too. Based on my personal experience and the direction we are taking at Accenture with what we call IT in the New, today’s CIO needs to embrace a number of new characteristics:
Consultant and integrator
When I started as CIO five years ago, we were very much in order-taking mode. Our corporate functions would typically express their needs and that drove the paradigm for the operation of our IT organization. But that model was unsustainable given the speed of technology change. We saw that we needed to assume a stronger role to inform and guide the enterprise toward digital transformation. We now serve as a consultant to the business on innovative digital strategies and solutions and integrator of our various functions and stakeholders on new solutions.
Broker, orchestrator, and ecosystem navigator
One of the biggest shifts CIOs need to think about is that they no longer possess all the skills, resources, and services they need to do their job. We must look to an ecosystem of technology providers in all its forms, from platforms to software-as-a-service (SaaS) through all the provisioning in cloud and all of the rapidly developing technologies that are demanded in the enterprise much more quickly than in the past. My role is more and more about being a broker and orchestrator of Accenture’s relationships and our ability to source, navigate, choose, coach, encourage, and mature our ecosystem of providers.
Innovator and inventor
My role is also to encourage innovation in what we deliver to the business. Innovation can occur within our own IT teams, such as our initiatives with AI, analytics, applied intelligence, and blockchain to deliver insight, intelligence, and automation. Having 93 percent of our services in the public cloud has changed how we deliver and operate, and means we can run at the speed of new IT. We are also collaborating and innovating with our ecosystem partners. Accenture was the first company to implement scaled BW HANA on Azure public cloud. And we are the first large-scale company on SAP Suite on HANA. Accenture participated in the early product pilot of Microsoft Teams, along with other Microsoft Beta customers, pushing the envelope on capabilities. We also collaborated with Salesforce to create a custom CRM that fit our needs with custom add-ons.
The CIO’s role is evolving to be much more of a CXO, a Chief Experience Officer. While classic responsibilities of governing and leading IT will always exist, increasingly, what IT produces needs to be an experience across the enterprise and less so a function-specific solution. For example, Accenture architected a transformed leave of absence experience that smoothly connects all absence readiness and return-to-work activities. The solution wraps multiple disconnected platforms and functions into one integrated, end-to-end experience accessible via a single portal. It’s not just a new tool, it is thinking about how to uncomplicate an employee’s leave and return to work. We’re doing the same for employee travel and relocation services, new employee onboarding, laptop replacement, and recruiting candidate experience.
Listener, communicator, and predictor
Consulting, collegiality, and forward thinking are much more our style of approach with the business today. I take the view that we are all members of the business and can help guide it together to forward-thinking solutions. Engage with your customers and listen to their needs, business processes, and priorities, and let that input guide your agenda.
At the same time, it’s important to be preemptive of the next chapter. For decades, artificial intelligence was in emerging forms, but now, it is ready for prime time. At Accenture, we’re making progress in embedding intelligence in many of the services that we’re building and delivering, such as around managing business performance, sales, win probability, and workplace technical device utilization and space utilization globally. As a result, we can surface a lot more insight than ever before and enable Accenture to become a more intelligent enterprise.
I fundamentally believe there has never been a better time to be a CIO. The possibilities of IT are exciting and changing every day. If you are a CIO, most likely you need to reinvent yourself. Embrace new skills and characteristics as part of your role, be current with technologies and open to change, learn continuously, and have fun at it all along the way.