CIO Insider

CIOInsider India Magazine



Ashok Cherian, CIO, Emami Agrotech Limited

Having spent over 25 years in IT, I have been an avid observer of what lies in the role of a CIO. I must say there is no better time to be a CIO than now. Gone are those days, technology and engineering was the key area. It’s all about business now a days. One may say “so what?”. What I really want to touch here is the unique combination of business focus and the emergence of cutting edge solution areas which can rock the business. Never had we had such maturity and acceptability on options like AL, ML, Cloud, Blockchain, Big data, IoT, Social which are all changing the business in a big way. Digital Transformation is no longer a dream but a bare necessity if you need to survive. Does all these revolutionize the CIO role? Absolutely yes! While the many CIO’s had the seat the top table, never the CIO is looked up by the C suite as a critical resource who can not only turnaround the business but take the company to unchartered heights of Customer delight. Be it top line, bottom line or sustainability, Digital Transformation is a must do and the CIO is a champion who can drive this. There would be practically no day when the C-Suite peers would spend without reading on the digital success stories in some form or other. The excitement and urgency to embrace Digital is growing rapidly and CIO is taking centre stage.

So it is quite clear that the opportunity is knocking any many have caught on to it. Business models and the core product itself is getting more and more driven by Digital. Product lines and the customer connects are getting Digital. This means that the very core of business will be digitally enabled. With Digital at the business core it is only obvious that the CIO and his team has the opportunity to get challenged and engaged.

Leverage the new age cutting edge Digital possibilities and stay on top of your CEO’s agenda. Also let us acknowledge that if the CIO and the IT team does not do, the business will do it themselves and this the challenge of “Shadow IT” is looming large. No matter who does, the business needs it and will get done. So let’s not give up this great opportunity and drive the Digital discussions and take lead role in identifying the business relevant use cases to try out the untraveled paths to business success and differentiation.

Design thinking sessions with business, sharing of success stories are some of the ways which is working to partner with the business leadership and teams to discover what can be done. Keep the discussions futuristic and make the business loose its traditional outfits. Then half the work is done and the stage is set. Try making Digital Innovation teams and celebrate success. The ways are many and no specific route works for all. Break the barriers and connect as never before and win the hearts digitally. Lay those critical pillars of Digital thinking in the organisation and the rest will be history.

As CIO’s and IT guys, we also have the responsibility to challenge the solution providers to be adopt open standards and talk more realistic. We should also raise the voice against unreasonable licensing and other governance issues. Partnerships can never be one sided and today I feel this area is pretty much neglected and needs to be focused much more. Should we be driving or be driven around? The answer lies with us only and we have the moral responsibility to set fair standards and norms in the industry where the solution providers, integrators and the users co-exists peacefully and complementing each other. We also have the responsibility to draw the borders for respecting data privacy and as more of regulatory compliance kicks in, embrace them and ensure proper controls, checks and balances are set of data confidentiality and privacy.

To summarise, the opportunity is knocking at us the CIO’s and our teams like never before. Let’s lead the Digital World by Innovating and co-creating the Digital Business Model. This will bring great business success and take the customer delight to the next level for sure!

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