Scale Up and Intervene: How Technology Should Support the Changing Role of the CIO and CTO

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Eighteen months ago, the digitalization race accelerated at breakneck speed. However, in the face of the trials, tribulations and turmoil that accompanied the pandemic, Chief Information Officers (CIOs) and CTOs (CTOs) had to step in, step in and make harsh decisions upon which the future depended. of their organizations. .

Digital innovation and technology-driven change have transformed the global business – and with the increasing importance of IT in modern businesses, the role of the CIO / CTO has had to evolve accordingly. Although very distinct roles – with the CTO focusing on technology infrastructure and the CIO overseeing the people, processes and technologies to support business goals – their scope of influence has shifted from technology leadership to business leadership. . In fact, according to IDG’s 2020 State of the CIO Report, 95% of CIOs said their role went beyond traditional IT responsibilities, while for 31%, building business resilience thanks to IT and data security was a top priority.

As digital becomes a key skill, CIOs play a key leadership role in critical strategic, technical and management initiatives – from information security and algorithms to customer experience and data mining. – which mitigate threats and stimulate business growth. For CTOs, the challenges surrounding digital skills development and the demand for software developers led them to focus on rapid recruitment and retention – 63% of senior executives agreeing developer shortage was a concern .

Today, with innovation playing an increasingly critical role in corporate strategy, CIOs and CTOS have found their place among the other members of the c-suite, notably Marketing Directors (CMOs), Directors experience (CXO) and even Human Resources Managers (CPOs), working with them to drive business performance and growth. What CIOs and CTOs now need are digital strategies that align with those of businesses at large, and the tools and technologies to enable them to do so.

However, before that – and the roles having changed so much in a short time – a thorough assessment of the key challenges and priorities facing CIOs and CTOs today is needed.

CX – a growing priority for today’s CIO

While already firmly on the agenda, customer experience (CX) has risen significantly on the CIO’s priority list since the start of the pandemic. In the age of the always-connected customer, CIOs now play a greater role in meeting growing customer expectations, as every step, or ‘touch point’, of the customer journey is supported by technology in one form or another. – from marketing and advertising, to purchasing and customer experience. In fact, according to the IDG 2021 State of CIOs survey, 57% of CIOs said improving the customer experience was a priority, right after increasing cybersecurity measures.

Most organizations have to contend with legacy systems and complex IT structures: a recipe for disconnected processes and data silos, not to mention bad CX. Indeed, many attempts to meet customer needs are hampered by back office processes and systems unable to meet these digital expectations. If you are stuck in this constant cycle, what will help you get out of it? Well, a strong IT infrastructure is definitely a good start, and CIOs should start by working alongside CFOs to invest in the right digital tools to enable their business to become composable. Access to low-code application platforms that act as a key technology precursor and are easy to use while enabling innovation, will be essential for businesses to build a better digital customer experience.

Technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) will also prove essential to deliver an exceptional customer experience. These platforms, due to their ability to be easily deployed and used, can be integrated across departments and used by developers and non-experts. Crucially, such applications can sit on top of and integrate with legacy software, giving businesses the ability to gradually improve the customer experience without overhauling their entire existing IT infrastructure at a high cost. .

Balancing digitization and developer demand

Another challenge facing CTOs has been to tame the increased demand for developers resulting from the pandemic, which triggered several years of digital transformation in several months. As millions of companies around the world have pivoted to increase their digitization efforts, the demand for talented developers has continued to increase dramatically, creating a burgeoning skills gap. Recruitment has therefore become a sensitive point for CTOs.

So what can businesses do to solve this problem? Calling on highly skilled developers to drive new initiatives is not necessarily the answer, or even an option, given the costs involved. An alternative would be to allow existing employees to become citizen developers within their organizations.

Citizen developers can add value to businesses and drive developments from the inside out, their deep understanding of specific process challenges helping to ensure that new systems and applications meet business needs.

The sky is the limit when it comes to the opportunities that a citizen developer can present. According to a Gartner study, on average, 41% of employees outside of IT – or corporate technologists – personalize or create data or technology solutions. And that’s where low-code comes in. By democratizing the application development process with simple drag-and-drop tools, low-code platforms allow non-technical actors within a company to create the solutions they need, while reducing some of the burden of developers. Enterprise technologists want to create and execute their own ideas for increasing the automation of their applications and business workflows – and this will be a major driver of low-code adoption over the next few years. the year to come. In fact, Gartner predicts that “around the world, most large organizations will have adopted several low-code tools in one form or another by the end of 2021.” Longer term, as companies embrace the principles of a composable enterprise, they will turn to low-code technologies that support application innovation and integration.

Achieve business goals

While tracking the customer experience and managing the skills needed for growth is certainly enough to keep a CIO and CTO busy, meeting company goals could certainly keep them awake at night. After a period of sustained economic uncertainty, growth has been cited repeatedly as a strategic business priority for CEOs, and the CIO and CTO are required to help digital components for future success.

So if CEOs want growth and an improved experience at a lower cost, what can CTOs and CIOs do? As their roles continue to be redefined due to changing pressures and expectations and as they become an increasingly central presence within senior management, responding to company initiatives has become a requirement. crucial, as is having the right tools to do it.

Like the rest of the world, business does not stand still. The roles of c-suite members will need to continue to evolve to keep pace with change. It is only with the right tools and a solid technological foundation that CIOs and CTOs can drive businesses to future growth and success.

Richard Farrell, CIO
Richard Billington, Technical Director,
Netcall


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