CIO’s Role Is Evolving, Not Diminishing

by Preeti S    Nov 05, 2014

Girish Kulkarni CIOKlub

With technology increasingly becoming business oriented, adoption of IT is fast evolving. Organizations are compelled to accelerate innovations and derive value from global best practices to stay ahead of the curve. Offering them the international platform for new business opportunities is CeBIT 2014, to be organized in Bangalore from Nov 12-14.

“The first-ever CeBIT in India is a great place to understand different patterns of technology adoption,” says Girish Kulkarni, virtual CIO, the role that combines technology and business consulting. Kulkarni, who earlier worked at MIOT Hospitals, Takshasila Healthcare and Columbia Asia Hospitals, is a vCIO by choice and is one of the speakers at CeBIT.

In this exclusive interaction with CXOToday, Kulkarni, who is also the vice-president of CIOKlub –Bangalore chapter, which has partnered with Hannover Milano Fairs India for CeBIT, talks about the changing role of CIOs, why he is excited about CeBIT and why he chose to be a vCIO.

As a CIO, what are your expectations from CeBIT?

CeBIT is a great platform for CIOs as it provides an opportunity to interact and share experiences. Meeting global CIOs and understanding best practices is an added advantage. While offering networking opportunity, the conference is the place where good learnings come from. Ideas will be shared and exchanged. There will be many companies showcasing their services and solutions. Understanding technology adoption across industries helps one to ponder over how it can bring value to community. That makes our job easier.

How will CeBIT help is promoting From technology perspective, how will this kind of conferences benefit companies?

A lot innovation is happening at start-ups and CeBIT is an ideal platform for them to get to know what is happening around the world. Start-ups bring huge advantage. They see opportunity in everything. They are extremely hungry for business and rubbing shoulders with big companies enables them to draw meaningful outcomes, which in turn helps them gain a competitive edge. Big companies have distinct marketplace. They also face huge amount of barriers, but smaller companies have best capabilities for risk mitigation.

Which are the technology trends that are shaping the healthcare industry?

The Internet of Things is changing both healthcare and patient care. It is all about being smarter. Seeing what others are doing, and knowing what works best for us and adopting the right technology, helps one understand technology well.

As a CIO, one needs to take stock of what is happening around and bring it to the board for discussion, get insider stakeholders’ views and ensure proper deployment. If not implementation, it is the CIOs’ responsibility to inform users, because a technology might be irrelevant now, but could be a huge success in a year. Healthcare is flourishing, but it has some inherent problems—high attrition rate and lack of availability of good doctors. Investments are on the rise to enhance patient care. Innovations and investments are aimed at moving from illness to wellness and ensuring healthcare is proactive, not reactive.

Every investment in IoT is making life easier. Penetration of technology is doing wonders. But India lacks in technology adoption because it depends on how commoditized healthcare is. Here, it is more of hospital driven, rather than doctor driven. The right combination of technology and affordable healthcare can ensure meaningful outcome.

With technology increasingly becoming business, how is the role of CIOs changing?

Many a time, digital initiatives are not owned by CIOs, but by CMOs. A lot of synergy is happening now. Roles are shifting by the day. There is a convergence of roles. The ownership of outcomes doesn’t lie with IT alone but it is spread across the organization. The risk of owning and deploying technologies is fast spreading.

The role of CIO is evolving. CIOs have donned many a hat in the past. They deployed CRM, did ERP, worked as finance head and handled supply chain management. That makes them capable of having better understanding of business process, operations and decision making. Of late, the C-suite is moving beyond their silos. Today, CIO’s role has become that of a manager. They are more into business process implementation.

After working at established healthcare institutions, why did you opt to be a virtual CIO?

In big organizations, every process is defined. Beyond a point, the job of CIO becomes monotonous . In the absence of motivation, ideas stop flowing and productivity is affected.

If we are to count, there are over 300-400 big hospitals, but there are thousands of smaller ones. From projects to operations, the latter has to cope with pressure from larger groups. Moreover, they can’t afford a CIO. When I considered both these scenarios, I felt the need for delivering effective services as shared CIOs or virtual CIOs.