Monday, September 05, 2016

If you are a CIO, you better know your domain and industry, else …

For every industry regulatory compliance is a given with no exceptions; these are local to the enterprise home country or in the markets they operate in, and dependent on products and services. In such situations there is always a choice of vendors who offer solutions to solve the problem at hand. These vary from local providers who grow with the industry and tailor their offerings to evolving needs; and then there are global providers who offer deep and wide solutions for large enterprises.

The conversation started by stating the problem the industry was facing and how it was expected to impact revenue and profitability in the near term followed by the standard sales pitch on how they were better than competition and why the assembled companies should consider their solution. The audience comprising of potential customers represented by CIOs, IT teams and few business folks agreed with the problem statement in varying degrees based on their frame of reference and charted journey which was their reality.

We started working on the problem three years back with the Board endorsing the strategy and approving the investment. We have almost completed the project and are now auditing what we have done. We comply with current requirements and are ready for the upcoming regulations deadline. We welcome your team to review our current state of readiness and highlight lacunae if any so that we are sure of our status. Please ask your teams to get in touch with me so that we can work together on this initiative.

Our business operations are not very large in the markets that require compliance to upcoming regulation; they have scaled down a bit in the last year or so due to some issues. We did start a couple of years back and took a step by step approach to solving the problem; my colleague here leads the initiative. There are a few gaps in our current readiness and we would be happy to explore your offerings to evaluate the value proposition. Let’s connect back after a few weeks and take the discussion forward.

Local vendors have given us the solution that complies with current requirements; they have offered to continuously develop the product based on evolving needs and deploy when we want it. Our Management has taken a decision not to deploy any solution until absolutely necessary. My team leader would know the exact status, I am not aware of the details; I will speak with them and revert on where we are in the journey. Once I have the status, I will reconnect if there is a need; in the meanwhile send me some information.

Three different perspectives from seasoned CIOs, each had spent over a decade in the industry; their respective companies were market leaders and competed fiercely with each other. Their journey towards compliance were spread across the spectrum with varied strategies and solutions – local and global. What was surprising though is their level of involvement, understanding, preparedness and attitude to critical business process that could adversely impact revenue, market share, and profitability.

The conversations also depict domain expertise and connect within the enterprise to the business and its challenges and opportunities. The first company is clearly a leader in usage of technology which the industry also hails. The second has experienced some trials and tribulations which has left the company losing market share, profitability and reputation. Progressively you will surmise that the last would be in the most disadvantageous position ! At least not at the moment, though their current stance may result in such a position.

Gigabytes have been written about the evolving CIO, role, opportunity in the digital world, CIO 3.0 and what have you ! CIOs have also been threatened by disruptions and the opinionated passing judgement on their future. The role has survived, evolved and many have thrived; unfortunately with the multi-dimensional nature of rising expectations, the numbers are beginning to dwindle. It is not that CIOs have lost touch or ability to make IT work, it is just that they are not in a position of influence when it comes to business.

Leaders are expected to not just make a difference internally but also be seen as beacons of light for others to follow; they need to shape opinions and outcomes for the industry while leading from the front. CIOs who achieve this are the ones that get written about in magazines, have case studies, and are seen in seminars and conferences on the dais, while the rest make up the audience. I believe that the true CIOs will continue to forge new paths while the rest of the industry will wait for early adopters to follow.

Where are you in the journey ?

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