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What If You Are Not a Facebook or Google?
Companies like Facebook, Google and Tesla can invest in building custom systems because they have the top engineering talent and are relatively new companies building on modern cloud architectures. They do not have 20 years of patched-together enterprise systems to deal with.
Clearly this approach will not work for the bulk of the Fortune 2000. So, what steps do companies need to take to compete more effectively in a digital, always-connected and engaged customer world? What are the implications of these changes for talent recruitment, retraining, and technology investment and adoption?
Start the conversation now. IT may remain a separate function for years to come. In fact, many companies will develop two-speed IT functions: one traditional, with systems of record and management; and one that is built by leveraging a modern cloud architecture, using agile development methods, embedded analytics, and connecting products and services directly to customers. These two lines will intersect.
It's essential to get a plan in place for a thoughtful and efficient means of connecting both IT tiers and getting the buy-in from senior management. This is where close and strategic collaboration between a CTO and CIO comes into play, driving the mindset and planning for these changes at the C-level.
Clearly, this is not simply a technology transition—it's also a cultural one. Managing the expectations of employees and involving them in the process will help with a successful transformation. Change that is rapid and pronounced can cause uncertainty, lower morale and trigger unwanted attrition.
Ecosystem development replaces vendor strategy. Long gone are the days when an IT strategy relied on selecting a few major vendors to meet all a company's strategic technology needs. Today, the technology and associated business advantages evolve rapidly, and young, innovative companies are often leading the way in important new areas such as container programming, AI data training and the latest agile development techniques.
Enterprise technology vendors provide great value and offer a global footprint. However, to keep pace in a hyper-connected world, companies must develop a trusted ecosystem of upcoming disruptors that are coupled with traditional global IT suppliers.
Identify skill gaps and training resources. Most companies do not have the resident talent to meet this challenge head on. Clearly, you will need to maintain your business systems and keep evolving them at market speed, but you’ll also need a critical review of talent and skill gaps.
These are new challenges, new technologies and new methodologies. Recruiting and retaining talent will be key, as will training that upgrades skill sets. A collaborative CTO/CIO mindset can look across both organizations in developing the talent needed to succeed.
Take chances. There are a few successful implementations of a wholly digital enterprise, and the variety and intensity of digital experiences is rapidly evolving. Each situation is unique. Don’t be held back by the way you used to think about communicating with customers, developing products or leveraging data. Be the designers of your company’s future. Having a mindset focused on the outcomes and not the organization can help accelerate your success.
The Basics Never Change
For all that is new, there are some axioms that will always be true:
- You must protect the data, even more so now that you have so much data on your customers.
- Moving faster does not mean winging it. You need to maintain good project management hygiene: Manage your resources and deliverables and identify any issues.
- Communicate broadly and regularly. Change is hard, but information can calm the seas.
The drivers of the closer alignment of IT and engineering—commoditized IT, connected products, digital experiences, systems of engagement—are accelerating, and they're here to stay. Some companies are well under way in this process, while others are just beginning.
How quickly and thoughtfully companies navigate this transition will directly impact their ability to compete and succeed. This is less about an organizational approach and more about a strategy and vision that requires these technology and people assets to work together to advance the success of the company and the satisfaction of the customer.
David Sovie is the global lead for Accenture Electronics and High Tech Practice.
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