Digital transformation, new technologies and increased need for C-level engagement have forced CIOs to evolve. In this Essential Guide, explore the changing role of the CIO and strategies to adapt to the digital marketplace. ustires. It is the time where the I in the word CIO is getting prominence across the indIn an exclusive chat with Cell IT, Amit Phadke, CTO, Global Software Company, tells B Swaminathan, his views on the evolving trends in the digital landscape. Edited excerpts.
Swaminathan (Swam): What is your view on IT using technology is directly involving in the P&L and not just a support role?
Amit Phadke: Largely IT using technology is directly involved in P&L irrespective of the industry or domain. IT is no more looked at as back-end function. Across various industries technology is looked as business enabler or partner. IT works closely with business heads and stake holders to meet organization goals. IT ensures effective application of technology to redefine and smoothen the processes; increase productivity and lower cost in the organizations. In the current age of digitization it is important that companies push the boundaries of generally accepted business and IT roles.
Swami: What do you think, the role of Indian CIOs will be evolving in the coming years?
Amit: Corporate IT is on verge of groundbreaking transformation wherein a different IT-Business partnership model is evolving. More often each business unit devises its own strategy and makes its own decision including technologies that it needs to take its products or services to customer. As a result each business unit will increasingly determine its own technology strategy too. Corporate IT will be required to provide overall strategic guidance, support and deliver solutions, act more as integrator when business choose to adopt some technology and business process. This new partnership model is evolving forcing IT departments to be strategic partners. CIOs are learning to provide services in such environment with focus in deriving optimum business value from IT. CIOs work with these business units to define what is absolute necessary and what is nice to have. CIOs are engaged on conversations where there is a shift of focus from cost and service levels to value creation in form of innovation and competitive advantage. In short CIOs will concentrate on helping the entire company develop the analytical sophistication needed to make the most of the rapid digitization in every aspect of business — effectively reasserting the importance of the “I” in CIO.
Swami: Many research agencies suggest that IT teams should work like a start-up enterprise within their organization having the start-up approach in budget, technology and so on. What is your take on that.
Amit: Thinking like start-up may not fit every organization. There are systems & processes which are built over years. There are concrete business plans which are long term. So budget and technology approach should consider this aspect when drawing the plan.
Amit: Every CIO role depends on the industry their company is part of. Domain expertise matters when drawing business solutions. Overall it is a good challenge for CIO in a tech company as everyone from trainee to the top management is tech savvy and demands are ever increasing aligned with latest technology trend. CIOs are expected to be technologically updated at a comparatively much faster pace than other employees of non-tech companies.
Swami: How tech-savvy is logistics/ travel companies? How should a CIO of a company that provides tech to them should have enough
Amit: As said before all industries today are extremely tech savvy. As technology becomes more and more pervasive across industries and functions, most companies are racing to become technology innovators in their segment. Logistics and travel companies or service providers to these verticals are no different. Everyone is up the curve focusing on block-chain, artificial intelligence (AI), Robotics, IoT and machine learning. Companies are investing on these technologies to keep themselves in competition, generate new revenues and finding better ways of serving customers.
Swami: According to many, the role of a CIO will be inclined towards a profit-making and not cost-cutting. How you see this trend
Amit: I agree that the trend has already changed wherein CIOs are not managing IT which was treated as a cost center. IT is a business partner in almost every field and drives business focusing on revenue streams, maximize returns through customer service or touch points, improve efficiency and much more.
There is a debate that AI and robotics would replace human beings. It is a hard fact that mundane work will be done more efficiently and precisely by analytical and robotic technologies. But I feel this is a compliment to what humans do. So one should harness maximum out of these technologies and stay ahead of curve rather than looking it as a threat. There is so much of data lying out that can be used in various ways to transform businesses.
Swami: How you see Indian enterprises going 100% digital? How you see the role of Chief Digital Officer?
Amit: Indian enterprises have started their journey 2-3 years back towards digital transformation and there is a long way to go. I guess next 3-4 years will be interesting to watch in terms of technology adoption by these enterprises to go 100% digital. Going digital is not necessarily adopting latest technologies to harness so called black gold (data) which every organization holds. It is about treating this data as an asset; utilizing this information for processing, analysis, mining and information trading. CDO is expected to lead the enterprise focusing around vision and strategy, people and culture, process and governance, technology capabilities and disruption. In short it is about digital transformation maturity improvement that is to be worked upon.