A brave new world for CIOs?
It was enjoyable to escape a damp UK for the warmer, drier environs of Barcelona recently and visit the forward-looking Gartner Symposium, writes Didier Rouillard.
The focus of the symposium this year was on the changing role of CIOs – what does the future hold for these leading technology decision makers? This is a key question for all CIOs, but particularly those in the financial services sector who, along with their lines of business are struggling with the digitisation of enterprise.
In fact, the big takeaway from the gathering is that lines of business are increasingly in the driving seat at organisations, with the IT department supporting the creation an efficient digital business strategy. This is primarily because businesses are starting to invest considerable amounts targeting ‘Generation Digital’ – or ‘Generation D’ as we like to call it – and drive consistency of communications externally. You can argue this naturally falls under the line of business remit.
As a result, financial services institutions’ business models must change so they are fit for purpose in this new world, which means using technology to provide customers with greater choice and added value. Only then can they provide the best customer experience – vital in the highly competitive banking sector to regain trust and still drive profitability.
For an example of how organisations can be fit for purpose, let’s look at bank statements. In the digital age why not make the statement interactive and easily accessible online, offline and mobile? This will give the customer choice and control, allowing them to drill down and source the information they want. The more enlightened banks are ready to steal a march on this to differentiate themselves and show they understand their customer’s desires.
CIOs have a key role to play in working closely with the departments to help drive such innovation, particularly across mobile and digital routes. However, this doesn’t mean ignoring offline media, but delivering multi-channel communications campaigns, through the media channel or channels the customer wants.
Another sea-change for CIOs discussed at the Symposium was around the increasing technical and digital understanding amongst staff across all industry sectors. This was raised as an issue that’s set to see CIOs experience the erosion of their position, influence and even budgets. So why is this? There’s an increasing trend for staff to by-pass the IT department, particularly where they can justify immediate return on investment to the CFO. This is increasingly becoming the case due to the evolving apps space, with the growth of ‘Business to Employee’ (B2E) applications and the simplification of app creation.
Clever suppliers in the technology and communications space are starting to create ‘Line of Business’ apps to make it easier for an organisation’s workforce to engage with customers and prospects at a reduced cost – removing, in many cases, paper-based administration and their associated expense. This could be a client onboarding app for the sales team that allows them to sign up new customers quickly and easily outside of HQ or a branch. It’s applications like these that can provide a significantly improved customer experience – vital in such a highly competitive marketplace.
These line of business apps can also play a vital role for the financial sector in enabling new products to be introduced quickly into the market. They allow those in this industry to be agile in the face of changing regulation from government – no need to update and throw away paper forms when there are changes to be made – and easily provide copies to regulators when required. Also, they enable all communications to be quickly standardised.
In summary, the symposium highlighted the need for a new role for CIOs in the banking sector. To maintain their future relevance and position, they need to be seen as consultants in the technology space within their organisations, and not a provider and decision-maker. Ideally, they will still be responsible for the backend integration of technology in an organisation to ensure data connectivity, security and compliance, with different departments attaching front end technology to meet their specific objectives. They also need to be able to work closely in support of their marketing departments to create an effective digital business strategy, to deliver multi-channel communications to customers that add value and deliver customer engagement. This is the only way to achieve prominence in such crowded marketplace.