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From the Chief Information Officer to the Chief Innovation Officer : Leading the Digital Transformation

By Bjoern Goerke, CIO, SAP AG


Bjoern Goerke, CIO, SAP AG

The drastic changes in the IT industry over the last five years are forcing us to come up with new, innovative ways to create business opportunities. In particular, CIOs are becoming more involved in what was once the province of only the CFOs.

"Capital Markets should look at Big Data as a great opportunity to extensively expand and grow their ability to fulfill new needs"

CIOs are expected to be on top of changes in capital markets, reduce the complexity and cost of managing infrastructure, and provide a new level of customized service through big data analytics. These help in company finances, including timely and accurate quarterly accounting. Disruptive innovation is a profound concept that defines a new era of technology that completely replaces the existing order. Today, Cloud, Big Data, and mobile technologies are driving us to rethink the future and embrace change. It is vital  that companies stay ahead of them in order to lead businesses towards change.

In an era when innovation dictates the future, CIOs need to rethink how they balance their time, priorities, and resources.  on the one hand, we still consider our priority to ensure the security of IT systems. But on the other hand, we have never had a better opportunity to be more strategically close to capital markets and to have an impact on the company’s finances and vision as we have now.

One of the most challenging tasks of a multinational company is to get a realistic picture of the company’s risks and xposures. In the wake of the Lehman Brothers collapse, accurate portrayal of risk became of paramount importance not only to banks but also other large companies spread across geographies. They had to manage their internal treasuries; they had to optimize how they were making use of commercial paper; and come up with strategies that limited various forms of exposure.

Just as an example, let’s talk about how treasury management software can be of great help to large transcontinental  operations. While it is no cure for systemic failures and the credit crisis that brought Wall Street to its knees, treasury applications are being used today by large multinationals to more effectively manage cash and payment processes, ensure liquidity, and evaluate and manage their foreign exchange, interest rate and commodity risks.

Many CIOs have stepped in to financial and reporting, harnessing the latest innovation in data analytics. Today innovation is top of mind for all CIOs.

Driving Innovation

The Cloud has inaugurated a new era – one in which major technology decisions can be made not just in the o f f i c e s
of the IT department and the CIO, but directly by line-of-business executives. Cloud technologies present a huge opportunity  or IT to establish and develop strong partnerships and collaborations with businesses.

Cloud platforms provide the database and analytics that allow businesses to anticipate market trends, identify emerging risks, make faster decisions, accurately predict the future, and run their businesses like never before. Although the Cloud  and provide unlimited capabilities, there is a general problem with its adoption across Capital Markets. A lot of firms are nervous about losing control over their client and customer data. Cloud security involves different layers of protection of
the information transmitted from users of the cloud to various systems that prevent unauthorized users to access stored data.

CIOs in today’s capital markets industry have to ensure they are enhancing the efficiency of their IT operations and  improving customer relationship.

Turning Big Data into Smart Data

New technology accelerates decisions and enables new processes and insights that were previously unimaginable. The secret to success lies in successful and quick management of mountains of information—commonly known as Big Data.

More data has been created by digital devices in the last five years than in the entire history of mankind. Today’s leading  tech companies offer a range of Big Data solutions and analytics. But huge changes are yet to come, especially in the fast-growing field of retail and consumer goods. An emerging middle class across the globe is creating a new segment of potential customers.

Capital Markets should look at Big Data as a great opportunity to extensively expand and grow their ability to fulfill new  needs. Finding the right way to manage existing and shared resources will create breakthrough opportunities for businesses.

Living When People Are Always On

There are now more mobile phones in the world than people. The way information is created and consumed has dramatically changed, and businesses must consider these changes as they strategically upgrade customer engagement. This transformation involves getting closer to customers on a personalized level, delivering in real time with the greatest speed, and still maintaining the efficiencies of operations and resource management.

Establishing peer relationships with customers has become an important part of the Chief Innovation Officer’s role in Capital Markets that is not focused just internally. Facing the external customers as well and acting as a strong advisor to the external business I try to improve the implementation of solutions and share best practices.

The CIO’s New Role

The role of the CIO in Capital Markets has shifted with the growth of these groundbreaking technologies. CIOs are no longer just IT supervisors. They are thought leaders, innovators, and social personae. It’s also critical to establish effective peer relationships with business executives to realize the full potential of the IT function.

CIOs in today’s Capital Markets are also in charge of managing and optimizing IT investments. To do so effectively, we have to team up with CFOs. Supporting the company’s priorities along with CFOs, CIOs won’t find themselves under intense regulatory and cost pressures in this growing technology era any longer.

Today, my job is to focus more on innovation than ever before. The grand name transformation from Chief Information Officer to Chief Innovation Officer is dictated by the changing tech world – and we hope the new emphasis on innovation, rather than simply information, will help us stay one step ahead of the competition.

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