Digitalization: An Ideality

Frank Modruson, CIO, Accenture plc
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Frank Modruson, CIO, Accenture plc

It is all about being digital when it comes to reaching excellence; there is an undeniable correlation between technology and success.  According to Accenture’s Tech Vision 2014, whose main focus is to find out the trends which are shaping technology and business, companies that invest in digital technologies and improving customer experiences are able to identify new growth opportunities and enhance performance.

Our report shows that high performers devote 55 percent of their IT budgets to measures that go beyond “keeping the lights on,” focusing more on delivering strategic capabilities that support growth and business performance. Accenture also has shifted its operations vs. new initiatives spending from two thirds to one thirds. Moreover, our research shows that five times more businesses that excel in their use of IT look beyond a narrow IT lens to consider broader business implications - social, economic and geopolitical factors - as part of their strategy and planning.

Technological Innovations

Technology is proliferating with an unprecedented rate. It is important for every company to use it in such a way so that they can provide efficient and robust services to their clients. At Accenture, our journey to becoming a digital business is well underway.  For instance, Accenture has pursued an aggressive collaboration initiative devoted to using technology to connect our people more effectively. This has included projects around video conferencing and unified communications. Like Accenture’s customized social network, The Stream, which encourages knowledge sharing and brings employees from across the globe together in new ways. This means Accenture’s client teams now have easier ways to share ideas, get feedback and connect with leadership and other resources.

Availability of flexible mode of communication with its clients should be cost effective, productive and more efficient. A flexible mode of communication is one, which allows clients and consumers to connect across geographies. I think there is a lot of opportunity around social collaboration technologies and the benefits they can bring to an enterprise. It will save time, money and will increase the efficiency but at the same time it will hinder the advantages face to face that communication brings, such as the ability to see and read those vital cues that help us gauge how messages and ideas are being received. We have made significant investments in video collaboration tools to make this technology an ideal source for communication.

We have implemented number of social tools that allows our employees to easily connect and share ideas. This includes an internal site with employee profiles and connections, a site for status updates and micro-blogging, customized mobile  applications, discussion groups and an internal video sharing site. The new social collaboration tools enable employees to connect with people who can help them serve clients better, share information that others would find valuable and cultivate the most worthwhile contributions of others. In order to entice employees we built a system of points and badges that are awarded to employees who participate in social collaboration activities, and allow them to create their own badges for specific projects. We have also taken a top down approach to encourage use of these technology innovations. Once senior leadership bought in to the idea of using social tools to foster knowledge sharing and innovative new ideas, other groups quickly followed suit.

Challenges as CIO

Listening, it is the oldest and still the most important issue one faces as a CIO. One has to listen, study, and learn all the different departments which are responsible for company advancement. We need to know the ways in which HR works, marketing is done, sales process goes and so on. A recent survey from Accenture found a disconnect between CIOs and CMOs, although three out of four CIOs surveyed stated that CMO-CIO alignment is important. But our marketing team is often the first to articulate their technological needs, bridging the gap between the two organizations and encouraging collaboration.

This feeds into a second challenge – the role of the CIO is evolving in a way that the CIO must be an effective technology consultant to the business. Business leaders are more interested in how technology can improve the bottom line, and where the company is in terms of visible tech trends such as analytics or cloud services. CIOs are expected to take a leading role in discovering, developing and deploying the technology that serves as a competitive differentiator for a company.

A final challenge is around digital technology. Optimum use of digital technology plays an important role for every IT company to boost their growth and to make them differentiated from others. Part of a CIO’s job should be helping business executives understand the value and benefit of evolving into a digital business and just how mission-critical and vital it is for staying successful. This means incorporating a digital framework – including mobile, social, collaborative and cloud technologies – into every program. As digital technology has the potential to not only change business processes but fundamentally redefine these processes altogether, it has become a CIO’s prime objective to understand its worth and implement it accordingly as one day it will surely change the future.