TECH TALK: BILL MAGEE says the chief information officer is playing a lead role in digital transformation
The chief information officer (CIO) has emerged as the go-to executive leadership role in an increasingly hyperconnected world that is not without its commercial challenges. Connectivity can be found in pretty well every aspect of a business, affecting an entire supply chain. However, emerging technologies are becoming evermore complex.
Businesses planning a step-change in their IT approach are urged to recognise, not ignore, what continues to be an uncertain digital era, especially surrounding the rapid development of generative artificial intelligence (GAI), along with a growing threat landscape.
Latest surveys reveal IT professionals are anxious about GAI’s power on behalf of business and commerce, while UK employees, although largely willing to work alongside AI, want greater organisational transparency.
A report from ZDNet warns companies, of all sizes, to beware allowing data-led initiatives to “sprout up without control”.
A study by takepayments of over 1,000 UK-based SMEs “across dozens of industries” reveals GAI is their chief worry. The same report a year ago didn’t mention AI.
Which? warns heavily marketed apps such as ChatGPT and Bard lack effective cyber defences and are ripe for exploitation by a new wave of convincing scams by fraudsters using AI.
Yet far too many organisations continue, stubbornly, to go it alone. Refusing to recognise organisational realities, they’re failing to bring on-board expert IT help when it’s obvious such a move is urgently needed.
The growing call for inspirational leadership for organisations eager to avoid being left digitally rudderless, will be raised at a Glasgow Science Centre-staged “Can Do Summit” on 7 November.
Aimed specifically at business start-ups and small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), a keynote will be given by data specialist and global financial services lead Edafe Onerhime.
She plans to explore how Scotland can thrive in the face of emerging technologies by sharing a responsible and pragmatic framework to successfully collaborate with data, tech and AI.
Thought leadership is a hot topic and for Onerhime, what resonates is how such a key senior colleague can be “clear and agile” in thinking, acting and communicating for the overall good of a business.
As they do this, they challenge their own assumptions knowing defaults don’t always work, and listening and learning from feedback. Such a leader is always learning, both as individuals and with the people they lead fully appreciating their own perspective is just one of many.
They also help colleagues raise themselves up by doing the hard work to give them space and clarity, with a thorough understanding and practice of an ethical duty of care for people who work with and for them.
For some businesses hiring a CIO may represent the first vital step. Some outsourcing of IT essentials might be needed like Cloud-based AWS serverless platform/data analytics, to back-up an in-house IT infrastructure.
Some outfits can unwittingly fall short. This can range from a 50-person legal firm to 300-employee manufacturing concern, rapidly discovering they’re being digitally overtaken and left behind by competitors.
It’s evident the CIO is well positioned to take such challenges head-on, advising on tech purchases, governance and building strong ecosystems of internal and external support where required. Larger organisations will probably also have on board the complementary role of chief technology officer (CTO).
NASDAQ-listed IT benchmarking researchers at the Hackett Group highlight how those equipped with the latest in digital tech expertise deliver far greater value than their peers.
They’re more resilient and better placed to navigate uncertainty, and spend an estimated 18% less in day-to-day operations. Managing costs without sacrificing long term IT strategy goals.
To recap, the CIO can lead an organisation wanting to go that extra digital mile by:
- Investing in key areas delivering the greatest return on investment with rigorous governance in place to make it happen;
- Ensuring they’re perceived as better business partners due to their ability to achieve targeted business outcomes;
- Delivering a better customer and employee experience;
- Show greater initiative to foster innovation and make key investments to compete more effectively in the digital arena;
- Make sure the bottom line in terms of greater revenues is self-evident.
This column is supported by Exception UK