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The Evolving Role of the CIO

By Michele Scaggiante, VP & CIO, New York Blood Center


Michele Scaggiante, VP & CIO, New York Blood Center

More and more companies today are realizing that to gain real business value from IT, you need to understand and leverage how data and technology are intrinsically embedded in everything you do, both internally and externally. The dependency on technology for virtually all business operations has raised expectations for the availability of systems and services especially in case of emergencies. As a CIO you need first to ensure this is managed well and that IT is an enabler, not an obstacle to daily operations. This is the first and most basic role expected of a CIO, but the position is much more than just “keeping the lights on”.

“CIOs have a unique vantage point on how companies operate across all business lines, how their processes, data and systems are integrated and how customers adopt the technologies they deploy”

Your board and leadership team expects you to contribute as a business leader, understand the threats and opportunities in your industry and achieve broad strategic goals for your organization.

CIOs have a unique vantage point on how companies operates across all business lines, how their processes, data and systems are integrated or not and how colleagues, customers and partners adopt the technologies they deploy. It’s by looking at your organization as a system and getting to know all of its different components that you gain the knowledge needed to solve problems, identify opportunities and help your organization achieve its strategic goals.

Many of the new opportunities for a CIO often lie at the boundaries between functional lines, where responsibilities are not always clearly defined. In the case of the New York Blood Center, I was given the opportunity to expand my role and provide leadership in the areas of Digital Strategy, Advanced Analytics, Business Continuity and Emergency Preparedness while partnering with other senior executives to ensure the proper sponsorship and support for these initiatives.

Although these areas do not typically belong to what is considered standard IT domain, CIOs are well positioned to transform digital assets into business value and to mitigate the risk of losing access to those assets even for a brief period of time.

Defining 360-degree View of the Customer

Depending on the industry you’re in, the definition of customer itself is going to have different layers that you’ll need to take into account to understand behaviors and to optimize your service, product offering and ultimately your overall customer experience. In the healthcare industry, for example, your customers range from a hospital, a healthcare professional, a patient or an insurance company and each one of them is a part of a complex system of influences.

Each of these customers has different needs and behaviors, so a good place to improve your understanding of them is to define the questions you need to answer about your customer in order to achieve measurable benefits. This discovery process will also help you determine what data you need and how to enable the right collaboration around it, both internally and externally.

Some of the data you need may not be coming from your systems, such information on social media or weather patterns. For external data sources fitting with the 3 Vs of Volume, Velocity and Variety, it will be critical to add a big data analytical capability to your platform.

You will need to take an iterative approach, as your target will likely change and be refined during the process of learning more about your customers and what drives their behavior, so an agile development model will probably fit better for the purpose. Adopting an agile methodology will also help in getting valuable insights faster and abandoning dead ends sooner, reducing the risk of wasting valuable resources.

Challenges for CIOs in the Healthcare Industry

If you are a CIO starting out in the Healthcare industry, be prepared for a very demanding experience which will thoroughly test you both as a professional and a person. You are entering an environment which needs to operate 365 days a year, is heavily regulated, often underfunded and increasingly under attack by cyber criminals eager to exploit your data and intellectual property.

The lives and safety of patients depend on you and your team, but you are not alone. Look around and you will discover a number of talented colleagues and partners who are passionate about what they do and are ready to join forces with you in order to achieve a shared, meaningful goal.

Connect what you and your team do on a daily basis with the mission of your organization and promote both internal and external strategic collaborations as they will be critical to your organization’s success and innovation. Bring the right talent and resources together, provide an environment where they can focus their efforts on critical priorities and you will have an incredibly rewarding experience in an industry where you can really make a difference.

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