IT is no more an enabler but has come to be a profit center. It is crucial to the entire business strategy. This only increases the onus of a CIO's role whose main function is contributing to the growth of business with the right technology. "The CIO's role calls for providing a competitive edge through the use of IT to the company's business," says Sanjay Prasad, the CIO of TCS e-Serve International Ltd.
Today, the CIO's role is akin to that of a CEO as far as his team is concerned. With the IT team becoming a core business unit, IT projects could help garner market share, improve cycle time, and introduce products in the market. For all this, a CIO's role is crucial, as he shoulders most of the responsibility. He is also required to work with heads of other departments to manage projects (such as ERP) that are business driven. This is why it's very common to find that CIOs are involved in the following aspects as part of contribution to business growth.
Profits for IT in quantifiable units: The main aim of considering IT as a profit center is to reduce total cost of ownership and ensure return on investment (RoI). As TG Dhandapani, the CIO of TVS Motor says, "All initiatives of business are IT-driven projects."
In the end, it is all about the customer. There needs to be enough tangibles in terms of turnover. So the CIO's role has to show quantitative gains for undertaken deployments. Joseph Kiran Kumar, the Chief Manager of IT for Piramal Healthcare Ltd says, "The CIO must have a sharp business sense or else land the company at the mercy of vendors." Another aspect to this evolution includes delivering value, managing risks, and the efficient management of resources. So the CIO cannot ignore his responsibility of delivering targets with the least possible investment.
CIO as a crucial member of the planning committee: The CIO has to be a driving force that backs achievement of business strategies and operational objectives for an organization. The CIO's role should be to support or drive business goals. He is now seen as a resource person for the organization who can formulate strategic as well as operational initiatives and achieve them. Thus he becomes a crucial member of the planning committee. When analytics come into play, the CIO plays a vital role in incorporating the business strategy to create competitive advantage. This puts the organization onto the next level, especially while executing enterprise-wide projects.
The CIO's evolution as a decision maker: Finally, the CIO has managed to complete his evolution in terms of contributions as a decision maker on the business side. "Technology is good as long as it meets the strategic requirements of the business. It is imperative that all IT purchases are backed by a shrewd business insight." says Kumar. A CIO's role includes being a strategist, innovator, visionary, motivator and an excellent executor. As Dhandapani says, "A successful CIO won't isolate himself on a technology island. He will mingle with fellow business managers to understand their strategies and business objectives."
Crucial role in IT governance: The importance of an IT governance framework has grown rapidly post-recession. A CIO too is accountable. This has crept into this function. Having a certified IT team (with certifications such as ISO 20000) enhances a company's credibility.
Today, the CIO's role does not confine him to technical systems and IT products. With a rapidly changing economic scenario, a CIO must bear the brunt of project failures if he misconstrues business aims. So for any business to succeed it must correctly gauge the potentiality of the CIO.