Many organizations are working towards ‘Evolve or Die’ scenario. Business leaders want IT to be focused on business results, innovation, and continuous improvement. Digital transformation can be defined as the acceleration of business activities, processes, competencies and models to fully leverage the changes and opportunities of digital technologies and their impact in a strategic and prioritized way. Seasoned technologist, Ram Thirumalaiappan, with close to two decades of experience in IT service delivery and operations shares his views on the importance of digital transformation by organizations.
CXOToday: With digitalization getting priority most organizations are becoming IT organization. What would be the role of CIO in organization decision making?
Ram: With Digitization IT has an opportunity be Strategic Enabler for Business, instead of Business needs driving IT. In this changing scenario CIO is part of the Company Executive and Business Strategy. Business is now looking up to IT for best possible ways to Grow and Sustain Business, while keeping the costs reasonable and flat.
CXOToday: What is your view on IT division of organizations transforming from supportive role towards strategic role?
Ram: IT now is no longer a support organization alone and business leaders are looking to tap into IT’s technology experience to help complement the sales force reach and be a sales channel as well. Digital presence and online sales is a must for growth of an organization and help in reaching to a target market beyond their sales force can reach.
CXOToday: What type of challenges CIOs are facing in educating technology for internal clients? (HR, logistics, sales, marketing etc)? Can you explain which unit is tough for a CIO in making them adopt IT?
Ram: Every function of business (HR, Logistics, Sales, Marketing etc.) is moving towards technology driven approach, either by themselves or by customers, partners or markets they operate. So taking a lead to use technology as the main delivery mechanism is key to success for all these functions. A Top-Down approach by the organization to all functions would be ideal approach, measured by key operational metrics resulting in cost avoidance and savings for organization. However, in absence of such common direction, some functions which have more external partners like facilities management lag behind in technology adoption, relative to other BU.
CXOToday: What are the key 3 trends the Indian CIO fraternity is facing in terms of IT budgets? Are the Indian CFOs able to understand the spend on IT?
Ram: The key 3 trends the Indian CIO fraternity is facing in terms of IT budgets include:
-Flat IT Budget Year on Year.
– Balancing between Spend on Keep-Lights-ON vs Technology Spends
– Re-skilling the IT Workforce on newer technologies
A valid business case resulting in cost reduction is easier for CFO to understand and support. Business cases for Security related expenses are still a tough sell as they are based on perceived cost avoidance or savings.
CXOToday: Where does Indian CIOs stand in terms of IT departments align with corporate strategy?
Ram: CIO getting a seat at the table of Corporate Board is first step for this alignment and this is mostly seen happening. This helps CIOs in shaping IT Strategy in alignment with corporate strategy.
CXOToday: What are the suggestions you want to give for the new-age CIOs?
Ram: The new-age CIOs should look to help build business strategy with IT enablement built-in rather than reacting to situation and retro-fitting IT on Business strategy. And be comfortable with the role of Technology Brokers either from within inside or external partners. And remember, if IT doesn’t step-up, business units will find a way on their own, making IT redundant.