Joel Steigelfest, CIO, Oasis Outsourcing
The role of the CIO is to be an integral member of the executive team focused on accelerating business success through proposing technology-enabled business opportunities, process optimization/ automation and user experiences that match mobile/social/self-service preferences. The CIO needs to be the IT expert to help business partners match the right technology to their processes and opportunities, especially in this connected world where we are constantly presented with numerous technology options. A successful CIO finds a balance on the three business needs dimensions of Operational, Tactical, and Strategic initiatives. Once the operational environment is established and maintained as high performance, emphasis can be placed on delivering value-added enhancements and competitive advantage projects.
"The key is to take advantage of the most relevant capabilities now available, while managing the cost and risk of value-based rollout"
Integration of IT Resources
By demonstrating a business-centric understanding of opportunities and threats facing business leaders, the IT organization can move from servicing requests and maintaining systems to becoming a trusted partner and key contributor to business results. In many cases, the technology platform is the product/service as users work more with the systems directly, especially with digital and social media, and less with personal interactions. With the IT organization positioned as an extension to the business leader’s direct team, through prioritized work requests, IT resources become integrally important to the success of the business function.
Leveraging the Best Practices
Digital disruption, virtual/augmented reality, real-time fulfillment, Internet of Things, autopilot, cybersecurity, and use of mobile devices in the workforce are trends that present opportunities and threats. The key is to take advantage of the most relevant capabilities now available, while managing the cost and risk of value-based rollout/adoption and not becoming enamored with cool/slick technologies with little business/customer value. By leveraging best practices across industries, technology trends can be matched with business drivers to be applied to even loosely related challenges such as delivering an Uber-like client experience (mobile, personalized, digital, etc.) for any service.
The Role of Data
With regard to technology innovation, I am most excited about big data and advanced analytics. By correlating data from multiple sources (internal/proprietary and external/ possibly limited availability), we are able to deliver a complete understanding of the most relevant information to make sound business decisions and take advantage of business opportunities. Some examples include cohort analysis, conjoint analysis, sales attribution (marketing methods/campaigns) and segmentation and data modeling to optimize inter-dependent results. Clients no longer just want reports to sift through to look for outliers or turn to the last page for totals. By interpreting the data and bringing meaningful analysis that the client can act upon, can build a partnership that optimizes outcomes.
One Size Fits All?
Oasis is always looking to out-innovate the competition to deliver a competitive advantage and the best client experience. Evolving technologies from advanced analytics to mobile-first user experiences better position Oasis to maximize value to its clients. By incorporating Oasis interactions seamlessly into the clients’ (and their employees) daily activities/operations, client satisfaction and retention/referrals would be even better than current levels. Based on client preferences, a one-size-fits-all approach is rarely ideal and evolving technologies make it easier to segment clients to accommodate how they prefer to interact and transact.
Prospective CIOs should focus on making meaningful contributions to move the needle on key business metrics including financial performance, operational throughput, and client experience. Some key success factors would include building a high performance IT organization, forming partnerships with business leaders, establishing a visible project dashboard that is easily understood and aligned with business goals, and addressing concerns related to cybersecurity, business continuity, and data integrity. New CIOs should put an emphasis on learning all aspects of the business, setting realistic targets, delivering on commitments and leading by example, including bringing a high level of energy/ enthusiasm, empowering frontline contributors and enabling the team with training, tools and resources. Approaching the job with integrity, fairness and discipline will go a long way to build confidence across the organization.
Agile Approach is Key to Success
Although I have only been with my current organization one year, I have seen many changes in the IT operating model in my role as CIO over the past five years. Some elements of change include virtual and cloud computing, Software as a Service, a shift from capital investments to expense based on consumption/utilization, elastic resources based on project load and an increase in flexible schedules and remote workers. These changes have resulted in optimized IT spend (pay as you go/grow), more productive teams and better managed/monitored environments. Development teams have incorporated an agile approach to meet project phase incremental deliverables incorporating sprints, scrums, and user stories into the software development lifecycle. Collaboration with business counterparts to form cross-functional teams continues to be integral to leading a successful IT organization.