4 ways for CIOs to drive business agility and growth

The opportunity for IT

Digital trends — from telemedicine to online shopping to virtual education — are growing in popularity globally and separating companies that thrive from those that fall behind.

According to McKinsey, “Companies with resilient, future-ready business models positioned to ride these trends have pulled further away from their industry peers, while those with legacy business models have, for the most part, fallen further behind.”

Inertia is the quickest way to fail. Companies need to continuously change, as customers change. And in a world where digital is now imperative, the surest way for companies to handle an unpredictable future is to fully embrace agile, future-proof foundations.

CIOs have an incredible opportunity to lead this effort and ultimately accelerate digital innovation and business outcomes. In this report, you will find actionable steps recommended by seasoned CIOs on:

1. How to frame IT’s opportunity to accelerate business outcomes

2. How to structure your integration team differently to optimize for efficiency

3. How to justify investments in the new model for innovation that’s emerging

4. How to measure the value of integration

Let’s dive in…

A new model for innovation

There’s always going to be a new normal on the horizon and subsequently a need for organizations to deliver faster.

However, fragmented hybrid environments make data unaccessible and integration really hard. Many revert to writing quick custom code, which takes a toll on long-term operations and time to value. Custom code is brittle, messy, and understood by too few people.

Businesses across industries need a different approach for unlocking and integrating data — one grounded in self service and reuse. To enable this type of business agility, IT needs to invest in a unified platform — not a set of tactical tools — that can securely expose data and turn it into consumable building blocks (like APIs) that the entire organization can discover and innovate with. In addition, these building blocks can be opened up to external customer, partner, and developer ecosystems where relevant.

Decentralizing IT and empowering your full ecosystem with data is a huge competitive advantage. It also takes the burden off IT to deliver all projects end to end. IT can shift focus from delivery to enablement, empowering employees, customers, and partners to go faster on their own.

Adopting this new mindset and approach to integration positions IT as a true enabler for the business. Companies across industries — from HSBC to ASICS to Tic:Toc — are putting these agile foundations in place to accomplish amazing things.

Partnering with business peers

For this new innovation model to work, a close partnership with business peers is critical. To be successful, CIOs must…

→ Deeply understand what initiatives are important to the business, working closely with the CEO, CFO, and board to identify and prioritize

→ Clearly map how technology can play a role in achieving those business goals at speed

→ Work in partnership with line of business groups to hit goals, sharing one vision and key value metrics

According to seasoned IT executive Steve Stone, “It’s hard to sell IT strategies to business peers if they don’t understand the problem. You need to talk about it in a language they understand: mitigating risk, improving quality, increasing speed. When my technology team wanted to implement changes, my favorite question was always, ‘Why?’ Everything has a payback, otherwise you wouldn’t do it. Help your team articulate what the problem costs the business today and how their proposed solution helps the company achieve its top-line goals.”

Framing IT’s opportunity to accelerate business outcomes is no easy task. Download and leverage the below PPT framework from Steve Stone to help your positioning when aligning with business peers.

Organizing the integration team

Once you’ve aligned with business peers on the company’s top goals and how integration can help achieve them at speed, it’s vital to put careful yet swift consideration on how to structure the integration team. To be successful, IT must shift from a centralized function to a strategic business partner.

In this Q&A, seasoned IT executive Esat Sezer explains how he built a Center for Enablement (C4E) team at Coca-Cola Enterprises to manage increasing integration demands from the business.

Where should CIOs start?

“Start by thinking about how you’re going to manage all the different demands for data coming from multiple parts of your business. You want to create a secure and reusable pathway to each data set, instead of rebuilding integrations every time a request comes in. This will increase productivity, speed, and ultimately time to value.”

What key functions made up your integration team?

“Demand management was a new and critical role, focused on identifying opportunities to build reusable building blocks like APIs for the business to leverage. Then having a team responsible for designing and building those new capabilities, or enhancing existing ones. And of course having a QA and test team to review every change we introduced in our complex ecosystem and ensure governance. Lastly, the platform team is critical for monitoring for reliability.”

Can the integration team empower the business?

“Integration is no longer just an IT problem. It’s a business problem and opportunity. Every function — from sales to marketing to HR to finance — relies on data to do their jobs quickly and effectively. CIOs have a very real opportunity to structure their integration teams in a way that empowers the full business to use data to their advantage.”

Measuring the value of integration

Measuring the value of integration The value of integration is tough to measure. A simple Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) model is often used ad hoc, but falls short on showcasing the true business value enabled by integration.

Given integration can determine who leads and who lags in today’s all digital, work from anywhere world, leading CIOs are beginning to adopt two key ways to measure its value:

1. Direct value created from an integration platform (“Platform Benefits”)

2. Indirect value enabled by an integration platform (“Business Outcomes”)

When justifying strategic integration investments to business peers, CIOs need to translate their team’s potential impact into tangible business metrics. One proven way is to highlight what integration is costing the business today (i.e., developer productivity, maintenance costs, quality) and how a new approach can incrementally improve outcomes and accelerate time to value in support of business goals.

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4 ways for CIOs to drive business agility and growth

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