In today’s era, every company is a technology company. Technology is a great equalizer in transforming various industries, from healthcare and banking to retail and more. Adopting technology—and more importantly, staying ahead of technology—will be imperative to remaining relevant as the speed of innovation occurs faster than ever before.
But what is the CIO’s role in driving the digital transformation of a company? The CIO’s role, by nature, is to be the biggest advocate for using technology to improve customers’ and employees’ experiences. The CIO also serves as the technical expert on how best to apply different approaches into a company’s unique infrastructure.
While many think a CIO is tasked with the job of figuring out how to make technology work for a company, as the CIO at Intuit, I can tell you that the role is much, much bigger. Developing advanced technologies and infrastructure is one part of the role, but there also is a large piece of using my role and influence to drive a cultural mindset shift around digitalization.
Deploying Empathy To IT
In the past, IT was looked at as an “order-taker.” I’ll admit, when I was on the product side, I was guilty of giving tasks to IT and then scratching my head at why things took so long to get done. The function was an easy scapegoat for a number of issues. Rather than echoing the complaints, I decided to do something about it by joining the team. It was only after I became a part of IT that I discovered the tough job of balancing and running all of the existing systems, while I was trying to build out a new future. It’s a difficult tradeoff to accomplish, and it’s hard to appreciate until you get in and understand it from the inside.
What I learned is that an IT professional needs to have both a technical and business mindset. In most cases, the CIO or the IT leader is the one person in the room who is at the intersection of technology and business. It is important that they speak in the language of the customer and translate technology speak into business talk for their customers. The goal should never be to show the room how smart you are, but it should be to make the room smarter.
I learned that modern-day CIOs need to have a strong grounding in technology and always update their technical knowledge to be current and leading edge in their technical thinking. At the same time, modern-day CIOs have to be business professionals because at the end of the day, the reason they bring technology into a company is so the company can be better advantaged at what it is trying to do in the world.
From Order-Takers To Transformation Enablers
Once I committed myself to transforming IT in a way that allowed our team to serve as true business partners, I never looked back. My goal was to take my team on a journey from order-takers to partners and then ultimately to transformation enablers.
The first step required us to stop thinking about our role as more than managing tickets, but to truly think about the business outcomes we are trying to drive. We stopped measuring our output based on tickets received and resolved, and instead revolutionized our operational metrics to focus on revenue produced, satisfaction scores, and productivity.
I pushed our team to be better business partners and encouraged them to provide points of view (with humility of course) to leadership to enhance their objectives through technology. I encouraged our leadership team to consider technology as a part of the business strategy. As enablers, not controllers of the technology, we wanted to ensure our company was using technology to its advantage.
One opportunity I found within my team was that IT can enable ecosystem connections. Due to the nature of our work, we are able to build end-to-end customer experiences across an enterprise and enable workers to deliver great experiences.
Preparing For The Future Of IT
The role of the CIO is continuing to gain more importance. The CIO is no longer the sole implementer and owner of technology; this role now ensures that the entire company is using technology to its advantage.
The modern-day CIO needs to be able to teach and influence their C-suite peers on how to understand new technologies and how the CIO can best enable the business to thrive and succeed. Through strong collaboration with business partners, CIOs can help to transform themselves to be strategic business partners to ultimately provide delightful technology-driven customer experiences.