IT evolving as an enabler of business growth

The changing business scenario is bringing a shift in the role of IT, which is now considered an intrinsic part of the innovation dynamics

By: Prasanth Puliakottu, CIO, Sterlite Technologies

One good thing to have happened in the last few years and being widely discussed is the changing role of the CIO and IT. The role of IT in setting and realizing business strategy is being more strongly acknowledged. It’s no longer a viable option for the CIO and the IT function to simply focus on traditional skills—enabling basic communications and security. With changing business scenario, IT is not just the support function—organizations now look upon IT as a tool which supports in remaining competitive, generating revenue, and retaining
customers. In fact, the technology function is now considered
an intrinsic part of the innovation dynamics.
This brings a shift in the role of IT and this role change in turn brings different requirements and responsibilities. For example, organizations now expect IT to facilitate business processes by enabling collaboration between other functions like finance, SCM, sales, HR, operations, etc. Other key requirements from IT include driving alignment between technology supply and business demand; guiding and demonstrating the value of technology to business; and connecting customers and vendors.
The changing business scenario is forcing the role of IT and CIO to evolve further. In the coming years, the IT will have to gear-up to deliver in these key areas:
Embrace disruption, but maintain a cost focus: Disruptive
technologies, like cloud, mobile, the Internet of Things, big data, and data analytics have a huge potential.
IT will be required to focus on creating detailed business cases before venturing deeply into disruptive technologies. Creating an environment where teams can ‘fail fast’ is immeasurably valuable—teams can test platforms and solutions before a large-scale roll out. This will overcome the ‘fear of failure’ factor and demonstrate value around a specific solution or platform.
Change IT discussion from a cost to a value investment:
Managing the business of IT through an integrated view of technology cost, performance, supply, and demand is a value-oriented conversation bigger than IT alone. To transform from technology provider to a value focused business partner, IT must address its business audience and tie into corporate culture, strategy, and goals. This kind of transformation can be achieved by following a distinct process:
„„Optimize your cost of performance: Provide the right quality service and manage risk for the best possible price
„„Rationalize to sustain value creation: Regularly simplify, modernize, and consolidate the technology portfolio to keep costs down and maintain agility
„„Innovate to grow and compete: Invest in change
„Enable agility: Businesses must continually adapt to changing markets and competitive landscapes. Building in agility allows rapid response at lower costs
Ensure teams are equipped to run IT like a business:
The shift to running IT like a business means new skills and capabilities are required beyond the usual remit of technology team members. To deliver strategic success, the CIO needs to build teams that understand both technology and business and that are skilled in cross-functional capabilities.
This strategic role shift in IT will be achieved by focusing on the following pillars of IT: Empowerment (data and information distribution and access, BI tools); collaboration; and automation.

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