Globally, businesses are facing radical changes within the current economic and market structures. In order to remain competitive, they will have to innovate around their products as well as services, but in a cost-effective manner. PwC’s 16th Annual Global CEO Survey suggests that CEOs are looking for new ways to stimulate demand and foster customer loyalty. They also aim to keep their R&D costs down and make the innovation process more efficient.
Today, the chief information officer (CIO) of an organisation can play an important role in driving innovation across the business. This is a stark contrast to the traditional role of a CIO, where in the past, he or she was mainly responsible for supporting business operations and ensure cost reduction. Today, a CIO has to focus on enterprise growth and profitability. He or she has to be a strategist as well as a visionary with a forward-looking approach.
The CIO’s role must evolve from being the chief information officer to that of a chief innovation officer. An effective technology strategy cannot be created in silo. Hence, it is vital for the CIO to collaborate with members of the C-suite, sharing the same level of understanding of corporate strategy, opportunities and risks, while at the same time, chalking out a technology roadmap. According to PwC’s 5th Annual Digital IQ Survey, companies looking at nurturing strong collaborations between the CIO and other C-suite members are four times likely to be top performers as compared to those with less collaborative teams.
While IT can be a key driver for innovation, it can be a barrier as well. The biggest challenge being the complexity posed by large and complex IT landscapes. In such a scenario, enterprises neither have the budget nor the time to focus on innovation. Instead, they are caught up in the infinite loop of day-to-day activities such as IT integration, configuration, upgrades, maintenance, etc. The other obstacle to innovation is the organisational culture. This comes from a conservative mindset of being comfortable with the status quo rather than embracing new technologies, which may require change from the business-as-
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