Thomas Lerch, Associate Partner, Digital Technology Strategy, IBM, discussed the “CIO Mandate” in his presentation to Argyle’s CIO membership at the 2017 Chief Information Officer Leadership Form in Toronto on September 27. In his presentation, “The CIO Imperative to Digitally Reinvent the Business,” Lerch examined the role of today’s CIO, as well as how a CIO can leverage an agile approach to drive a company forward.
According to Lerch, IT needs to take a more direct role than ever before in reinventing the business. With a direct approach to business transformation, IT can embrace the “digital reinvention” that is reshaping the global business landscape.
Thanks to the digital reinvention, IT is becoming paramount in the way that companies operate. If IT embraces the opportunity to take an active role in the way that a business functions, it could help a company drive long-lasting customer partnerships.
“The digital reinvention is changing the way we look at business everywhere,” Lerch stated. “This is creating new experiences and demands, which disrupts old models.”
Today, the customer experience often dictates a business’ success. If a company can engage and inform its target audience, it increases the likelihood of delivering an exceptional customer experience. Conversely, a business that ignores digital tools and technologies risks missing out on opportunities to bolster its customer experience levels.
“It’s individual experiences that we’re working on. … And it’s about making sure that individuals are more connected and empowered.”
Digital tools and technologies enable IT to provide an outstanding customer experience across multiple platforms. That way, these tools and technologies allow companies to raise the bar for the customer experience and use the customer experience to differentiate their respective businesses from rivals.
“Your last best customer experience is now the new minimum for your customers, even if they didn’t experience it within your brand,” Lerch said. “That same expectation is going to translate to your business.”
Personalization plays a key role in the customer experience as well. If companies possess the tools and technologies to provide individual customer experiences, these businesses should have no trouble standing out from the competition.
“Businesses are focused on individual, personalized customer experiences,” Lerch noted. “It’s individual experiences that we’re working on. … And it’s about making sure that individuals are more connected and empowered.”
How quickly a company embraces digital tools and technologies can have far-flung effects on a business too.
“The digital reinvention is changing the way we look at business everywhere. This is creating new experiences and demands, which disrupts old models.”
A company that uses digital tools and technologies consistently can explore innovative ways to improve the customer experience. As such, this business is better equipped than others to connect with its customers both now and in the future.
“Competition is coming from new areas, and the transformation of business models is happening faster than we could ever imagine,” Lerch pointed out. “The stark reality is that there are some dramatic impacts in the way that businesses are operating.”
Although the CIO is a vital contributor to a company’s IT operations, few CEOs believe the CIO can help a company drive digital transformation. However, CIOs can change this perception by making digital transformation a top priority in their day-to-day operations.
“CEOs are not seeing CIOs as leading [digital] transformation,” Lerch said. “If you’re not working on transformation exercises right now, you’re probably already behind.”
The talent on staff across an IT department can help a CIO foster a collaborative culture, one that leads to digital transformation throughout a company. Yet finding and retraining top talent is a major problem for CIOs globally.
“Talent is a scarce commodity,” Lerch stated. “Finding and attracting people to the organization who have the skills and have the mindset that you need to grow is difficult.”
It is important for CIOs to show job candidates that a company is willing to innovate. By doing so, CIOs can help a business attract and engage top talent.
Furthermore, CIOs should deploy a customer transformation journey that accounts for development and operations (DevOps), agility and other state-of-the-art tools, technologies and techniques. CIOs then can find the best ways to use various capabilities in conjunction with one another to deliver meaningful business results.
“Starting across the ecosystem in the customer transformation journey will allow you to connect different parts of your capabilities together into one whole value stream that makes sense to the customer,” Lerch noted.
CIOs also should take a forward-thinking approach to new technologies. This approach may lead CIOs to discover innovative ways to connect with customers and build partnerships with them.
“Enabling technologies are the forces that allow you to take different avenues out to the customer,” Lerch indicated. “If you don’t have a perspective across these different emerging technologies, then you, as an IT organization, need to start developing one.”
An acknowledged expert in DevOps transformation, Thomas serves as a trusted business adviser within IBM’s Digital strategy COC. He is dedicated to helping C-Suite executives develop and deliver strategic programs and services that transform the enterprise. Recent successful client engagements include the Agile transformation at a global airline and developing the technology strategy for a global health care organization. Prior to joining IBM, Thomas was the Principal Enterprise Architect at T-Mobile and has gained 20 years of progressive technology program and strategy leadership throughout his career. Thomas holds a BS from the United States Naval Academy and an MBA from The University of Washington.