What does it mean to be a CIO in today’s digital economy? Gone are the days of the stereotypical geeky tech savant in charge of any and all system issues. The pervasiveness of digitalization and its transformation of entire industries has made the role of the CIO more vital than ever to overall business success. So much so that 70 percent of CIOs surveyed by Forbes believe that they are well on their way to becoming CEO. However, what does that translate to when it comes to authority and responsibility? And what challenges will CIOs face when tackling this redefined role?
CIOs more integrated than ever before
Once considered more of a tangential figure, CIOs are now intensely involved in major corporate decisions that affect sales, marketing, business development, human resources, and more. They are no longer merely problem-solving tech issues, they are now innovating and steering business development as companies take more and more steps towards the digitalization of processes and products.
In fact, after technology know-how, CIOs consider an ability to contribute to corporate strategy to be one of the most essential skills they will need.
In order to do this successfully, they will have to possess a much more comprehensive overview of the entire business. One that extends well beyond IT. This will give them the insight and leverage to make proactive decisions rather than provide reactive responses when it comes to shaping business development.
CIOs more focused on customers
CIO of UPS, Juan Perez, says what many CIOs need to be thinking: “Great value is about implementing technologies that will help your business to improve service and to boost connectivity with customers.” Having a solid product and a strong brand is no longer an automatic ticket to success. Companies looking to excel have to distinguish themselves from the competition.
And many have realized that the best approach is to appeal to customers with more face-time and improved service offers.
This is becoming increasingly evident in the field service sector where companies are embracing digital solutions to improve the overall service experience.
From the implementation of chatbots for improved self-service options; to the use of predictive maintenance to eliminate breakdowns and downtimes before they occur; to the switch to field service software solutions that offer everything from inventory management to intelligent scheduling to customer real-time updates. Companies looking to set the bar higher are focusing on pleasing their customers beyond the point of purchase. And of the 80 percent of CIOs, who believe they will be important contributors to customer-facing tools, 40 percent say they will in fact be essential.
One thing is abundantly clear: CIOs are the best positioned within the corporate hierarchy to grasp and implement the new technological innovations reshaping the field service sector. Their success, however, will depend on how well they can align their efforts with those of other departments with the same aims.
CIOs taking on corporate culture
No man (or woman!) is an island. One of the most challenging jobs CIOs will face is getting every one on board. In fact, of the 3160 CIOs that Gartner spoke with across 89 countries for its 2018 CIO Survey, 46 percent stated that their greatest challenge to transformation was company culture.
The task of overcoming employee resistance to change was once left to human resource departments. Nowadays, however, change is coming more frequently in the form of digitalization. Which is why it makes sense for the CIO to work hand-in-hand with HR to tackle corporate barriers to the acceptance of new technologies. This kind of partnering and fusion of expertise towards achieving a common goal will help smooth the way for the integration of new digital tools.
Change Management vs. Culture Hacks
However, knowing where to go and getting there are two fundamentally different things. Let’s look at the example of field service technicians. They need to be equipped with far more than the right tools as new technologies take hold. Their willingness to adopt these tools and use them effectively will hinge significantly on how reluctant or amenable they are to abandoning old methods and habits. And anyone who has ever attempted to stick to a New Year’s resolution knows how challenging this can be!
A well prepared field service technician working with the latest field service software solutions has access to checklists and extensive knowledge resources to improve first-time-fix rates, can invoice customers on the spot, can upsell and cross-sell new products, service agreements and upgrades. And they are the face of the company when on site with customers.
There is clearly much to gain from having your field service team on board with these changes! But rather than managing change, turning to culture hacks could prove swifter and more effective. Why? Because they evoke emotional responses, which are key to changing behaviors and habits.
CIO to the rescue
So what does this mean for the CIO? Ultimately, every company must determine what form of culture hack would best inspire a readiness and eagerness for change amongst their employees. However, the new CIO’s cross-departmental foothold should make it easier to assess what motivates, drives, and excites people. And emphasizing this very same kind of collaboration between all employees will go a long way.
Let’s go back to our field service technicians. Their receptiveness to new tools will increase exponentially if they feel confident about employing them and, even more importantly, realize the overall contribution they are providing to the entire company. As such, one potential culture hack might be to create integrated feedback and action teams consisting of representatives across all departments. This will give everyone an opportunity to learn about the new tools, teach one another about their functionality, benefits, and relevance to their own departments, relay the improvements and customer feedback they’ve experienced, and more. When everyone can attest to the added value, and with a CIO who is vested in all departments steering this process, it will be far easier to facilitate corporate culture change.
At the end of the day, it should come as no surprise that successful digital transformation demands significant technological know-how. However, any CIO hoping to really win over employees across the board will invest just as much time and energy into understanding the needs and goals of the entire company. Only then will he or she be able to ensure that any and all new technology is really having the most positive impact.