CIOs Should Be Champions Of Business Innovation

by CXOtoday News Desk    Mar 13, 2014

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The CIO’s role is clearly changing, with a mandate to innovate. A new study reveals that CIOs who are increasingly relying on IT-driven business innovation are emerging as constant winners in the industry. The study titled: “Business Transformation and the CIO Role” that has been conducted by Harvard Business Review and sponsored by Red Hat shows that CIOs can not only optimize their business strategy and customer engagement far more effectively, but are also helping organizations in improving their bottomline. Those who are at the forefront of IT-business innovations are often held as “champions” in their organization.

As per the report, 32% respondents said they have brought more intelligence and mobility to their core operations. Researchers term them as “Innovation Accelerators”– as they are pursuing IT-enabled business innovation as a core strategy throughout their organization. These companies are anticipating significant change over the next three years, particularly in how they engage with and learn about customers, as well as in their business models, products and services, and end user processes.

These companies are more than twice as likely to invest in the creation of new applications compared to peers in companies where innovation is not a priority, found the study. They are also more likely to focus on revenue generating opportunities with new customer experience strategies, business model innovation and service innovation. By contrast, companies for which innovation is not a priority will focus more internally on the automation of business processes.

Innovative companies have moved from a ‘keep the lights on’ strategy to one where they are driving strategic initiatives like customer experience and service innovation. It is clear to me that the role of the CIO is changing as a result too, now playing an essential role in IT-driven business innovation.
-Lee Congdon, CIO, Red Hat

Some of the other highlights of the report include:

- Business intelligence/analytics and mobile technologies and apps lead the list of technologies that survey respondents expect to drive business innovation over the next three years, followed by process automation, collaboration tools, cloud computing and social media.

- C-level leadership plays a significant role in driving technology-driven business innovation. According to survey respondents, CIOs lead this type of innovation in 41% of organizations, CEOs lead technology-driven business innovation in 16% of organizations, and other C-level executives account for 16%. In approximately one-fifth of organization, a senior cross-functional committee or innovation board leads IT-driven business innovation.

- Innovation Accelerator organizations value this cross-functional collaboration, with nearly half reporting that IT and the business typically engage together to identify innovation opportunities.

While CIOs have a mandate to help drive this innovation, daily responsibilities of running IT and limited resources may be hindering their ability to do this. According to survey respondents, while 57 % believe the CIO should drive innovation and strategy, only 12% say their CIO actually does that. Survey results indicate that innovative CIOs perform more strategic roles, develop and refine business strategy, driving business innovation, and identify opportunities for competitive differentiation.