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  March 9th, 2018 | Written by

Five Ways IT Leaders Can Help CEOs in the Digital Era

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  • CIOs are taking an active role in company vision and overall strategy.
  • Ways CIOs can help CEOs with digitization initiatives.
  • The trucking industry has begun to embrace technology trends, especially those impacting customers.

As a business leader, it is likely one of your top priorities is digitizing. While the trucking industry has begun to embrace certain technology trends, especially those that impact external audiences like customers, there are still many businesses doing internal business processes manually or in spreadsheets.

A key piece of your digitization initiative should move the business towards data visualization by using business intelligence solutions for both internal and customer-facing processes. This digital transformation will give you actionable insight into process improvement and real-time, proactive decision-making opportunities in everything from fleet management to company marketing.

We’ve discussed previously how the CIO and CEO are working closely together in the digital transformation. The CIO is the primary adviser to the CEO and has stepped out of the depths of technical support to take on their biggest leadership role yet. The CIO and CEO are making strides to understand one another more than ever; so much so that a Wall Street Journal CIO Network meeting revealed 70 percent of CIOs aspire to be CEOs.

With CIOs taking an active role in vision and overall strategy, here are ways CIOs can help CEOs with digitization initiatives.

Feed the CEO Expertise. CEOs are not going to be the experts on technology or its implementation. They will rely heavily on CIOs to fill in the gaps for them, and in return, the CIO will be provided with the resources necessary to lead the transformation.

Don’t Lean on the CEO for Vision. Successful CEOs are obsessed with innovation. They have vision for the company and the supporting executive roles carry that vision out. This doesn’t change in the digital transformation. However, CIOs can “beat” CEOs to the innovation punch. Be proactive in providing the CEO with new ideas and help them realize areas to innovate they hadn’t even imagined yet. Many big companies are slow to change so the trends that are happening in other industries may not be accessible to them for another few years. One that the trucking industry could start to embrace now is moving their legacy systems to the cloud, if possible. Also, investing in telematics and creating mobile apps so that the field team can record and send feedback to headquarters, whether manually or through automation, is another great trend to look into. This allows the operations team to collect and analyze data in real-time. No one knows better how technology can impact the enterprise. When given the go, iterate new ideas faster and turn them into real-world gains in speed, efficiency and cost reduction. You are best-equipped to delineate the optimal solutions to manage digital disruption and alter how the business operates on a daily basis.

Make the CEO Spend Time on Cybersecurity. Technological change is great, but often it seems to be racing ahead of the ability to keep it safe and secure. Often times, this protective task falls on the CIO, when really it is a shared challenge. The more involved you request and push for the CEO to be, the better prepared your enterprise will be for attacks. Help the CEO understand that in digitizing your data there is risk. Many are calling data the “new currency of the digital world.” This means people want access to it, and unfortunately, traditional hackers aren’t the only ones to look out for. There’s also the threats posed by employees who compromise data sources through unauthorized third-party apps or poor security on their personal devices. At the end of the day, all managers, from the CIO to the CEO, must work on security together. Otherwise it gets moved down the corporate priority list, potentially putting the organization at risk.

Push for Use of Technology to Improve Customer Service. “The customer experience is the next competitive battleground.” Those words, spoken by Dell CIO Jerry Gregoire, have never been truer than they are now. Technology has provided such beneficial advancements in customer service that price is becoming markedly less of a factor when choosing vendors. Consider 24/7 customer service provided partially through an Intelligent Assistant, the real-time updates on status given to the customer, or the faster turnaround in problem solving. Real impact comes from the quality of customer experience. Customers want to know they’ll have resources if their item doesn’t arrive as expected, or if they need help placing an order.

Give the CEO a History Lesson. Digital transformation encompasses the strategic overhaul of an organization’s structure and operational models. Companies who are unable to adapt to the increasingly data-centric business world are falling behind. To demonstrate this, one need only to look at the S&P 500. In 1958, companies remained on the index for an average of 61 years. Today, companies are replaced by more agile competitors approximately every two weeks. The benefits of digital transformation stand in stark opposition to the consequences of failing to make the change. With such a gap between the outcomes of companies who do and do not embrace the digital transformation, there can be little debate over its value. Reminding the CEO of this regularly will help them prioritize technology in their vision for the company.

Humberto Farias is a seasoned technology professional with over 18 years of experience guiding companies around the world through the custom software development process. Humberto’s work across more than 10 industries and 3 continents, including work with Fortune 500 companies such as Walt Disney World and GE, has given him a keen ability for approaching every opportunity with fresh ideas and out-of-the-box thinking to find the most impactful technological solution. As a dynamic business leader and a Certified Scrum Master, Humberto leads a team of highly skilled software engineers and developers at Concepta, providing tailored web and mobile applications to small-to-medium enterprises.