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CIO: Time to Take a New Direction

By Lee Thompson, SVP and GM, NetSuite APJ

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Lee Thompson, SVP and GM, NetSuite APJ

Innovation is a word we’ve all heard in spades in recent years. The rapid rate of change and digitisation of all industries across Asia Pacific, from media to retail, manufacturing to healthcare, has led to a greater focus on agility, collaborative working and ideas generation. For the first time, political leaders and large enterprises across the region are prioritising the need to think differently.

Innovation is inherent to and born out of technology. Technology underpins the tectonic change we’re experiencing, as it continues to empower digital disruptors, consumers and organisations themselves. Given their heritage and unparalleled experience, CIOs have a unique opportunity to position themselves in a more vital, strategic role, helping organizations navigate toward a more agile way of working. Now is the perfect time for CIOs to shift the perception of the role from being an enabler of technology, to a driver of new innovation with substantial business benefits.

"CIOs have a new and exciting opportunity to win back trust of the executive suite by focusing their attention on innovation"        

In years gone by, CIOs were primarily responsible for ensuring an organisation’s technology operations ran efficiently. Prior to the cloud, a large part of this was managing laborious IT tasks that on-premise infrastructures required and manually processing endless information from across the organisation to generate business outputs. More often than not, IT-led projects encountered issues, including cost overruns, integration problems and version lock, associated with disruptive upgrades to legacy technologies. Whilst the CIO was not solely responsible for all elements of an unsuccessful implementation,the risk of failure permeated the rest of the C-Suite, leaving many CIOs fearful of dismissal, and in some cases actually losing their jobs.

Fortunately for CIOs, these issues are becoming increasingly obsolete, as cloud vendors assume the responsibility for maintaining and upgrading systems for them.Liberated from these transactional tasks, CIOs have a new and exciting opportunity to win back trust of the executive suite by focusing their attention on innovation, and demonstrating that IT projects can have a profound impact on the business’ bottom line.

The reality of the consumerisation of IT means employees demand access to the most innovative technology in their workplace offering access to up-to-date information in real time to make fast and agile decisions.As such, end users are placing continual pressure on IT departments by pushing for technological change. This poses a big challenge, but I would argue an opportunity, for CIOS as they need to embrace and not reject this trend to remain successful and drive their organisations’ forward.

Given all of this - there has never been a better time to redefine the role of the CIO – for them to morph into chief innovation officers that play an instrumental role in helping organisations operate more efficient lyto enable business growth. It’s time for the IT team to move out of the shadows and take on a more value-added role. 

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