The CIO: Why this role is crucial in modern organisations

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Cat Mules

Data intelligence leadership is said to be more foundational to business than ever, but what are the practical ways that CIOs are having an impact?

A lot of the buzz around artificial intelligence focuses on end products like chatbots, autonomous vehicles and digital replication tools, but AI and machine learning are predicted to impact nearly every phase of business.

It hardly needs to be mentioned that the business recovery is top of mind with rapidly shifting customer expectations, not to mention a more pressured, competitive and in most industries, restrictive, Covid-19 market.

Very few leaders believe they are getting full value from technology. A recent Accenture report surveyed 8,300 companies, across 20 industries and 20 countries. Only the top 10 percent felt they were realising the full value of their technology investments.

Artificial intelligence provides a way of achieving more impact with less cost. Organisations – be they private, public, not-for-profit – are all looking for higher returns from AI and machine learning than just great insights.

Enter the Chief Intelligence – or Information or AI – Officer

This influential executive who oversees the organisation’s intelligence vision. Sitting atop the technology pyramid, the CIO handles decisions on the selection and purchase of IT equipment, how to install, when to upgrade and how to improve. It’s their responsibility to ensure IT is synchronised effectively across the entire system.

Three key CIO roles in business

Don’t neglect the basics

The CIO wears many hats. They are in charge of assembling the core IT infrastructure to move business operations from physical to virtual. Right now, for many businesses, that’s about business survival – preserving the cash flow, maintaining operations, keeping business ticking along as usual.

The critical priority here is ‘steady as she goes’ ‑- protecting staff, keeping customers happy, and maintaining processes where possible. What are the full physical and technological capabilities staff need in order to work effectively from home? Do customers have what they need to stay in close contact, have the access to data they need to do their jobs and stay loyal to your brand?

But the CIO can help take business to the next level too. Need inspiration? AI software company Clearview AI tossed billions of social media photos to design a facial recognition app that can ID anyone, now in wide use by law enforcement agencies and billionaires.

Having a CIO in place is essential to the wider business continuity plan, explaining the value of new technologies and creating innovation hubs that benefit business in the safest possible ways.

Reopen workflows

Optimised intelligence will set the wheels in motion for when business emerges from the Covid 19 crisis. From there, ongoing listening will help optimising workloads on an ongoing basis. Even as you’re stabilising teams to perform to their utmost, you should always be prepared for the possibility of another outbreak. The work-from-home period has shown us critical benefits of technology, especially understanding the end-user.

Partnerships are the crux of a CIO’s offering, for example spurring mentoring, roundtable discussions and other engagement opportunities between a health insurer and a local health technology incubator to assist health tech start-ups.

At Adobe, CIOs have worked with CMOs to convert planning related to customer needs into practice with the Adobe Experience Platform that centralises information, tracks customer journeys, and shares actionable insights into customer service needs.

CIOs work closely in the c-suite to understand value across all business touchpoints, including what failure to deliver could means to the end user.

Past Accenture chief scientist, Kishore Swaminathan, describes the power of IT to “standardize a mashup development environment and make data from back-end systems easily available” and “empower the end user to build the applications they need”.

The personal touch trumps all

Even though the people factor hasn’t always been a big part of the IT suite, a critical role of the CIO is horizontal – listening across different departments and teams, and responding to feedback about how, and whether technology, is working effectively.

Deloitte explains disconnects occur when IT doesn’t understand individual services along the entire end-to-end business value chain.

Even if IT is achieving all of its technical service level agreements and targets, it could still remain oblivious to things not working in the wider business value chain, such as products not being shipped or reports not being generated.

Bask Iyer, CIO of VMware, predicts that in the next five years, “the Office of the CIO” will be the “new guardians of corporate trust and reputation to build and protect customer relationships”, across compliance and security but also data privacy and digital user experience.

An engaged CIO will steer your business through these choppy waters where the market is changing fast and often.

As AI and machine learning business capabilities expands, there’s all the more reason for having a cross-departmental and people-focused CIO helping to fully maximise leadership in anticipation of what’s coming next.

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Cat Mules

Umbrellar's Digital Journalist, coming from a background in tech reporting and research. Cat's inspired by the epic potential of tech and helping kiwi innovators share their success stories.

Data, AI, BI & ML

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Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are the terms of computer science. Artificial Intelligence : The word Artificial Intelligence comprises of two words “Artificial” and “Intelligence”. Artificial refers to something which is made by human or non natural thing and Intelligence means ability to understand or think. There is a misconception that Artificial Intelligence is a system, but it is not a system. AI is implemented in the system. There can be so many definition of AI, one definition can be “It is the study of how to train the computers so that computers can do things which at present human can do better.” Therefore it is an intelligence where we want to add all the capabilities to machine that human contain. Machine Learning : Machine Learning is the learning in which machine can learn by its own without being explicitly programmed. It is an application of AI that provide system the ability to automatically learn and improve from experience. Here we can generate a program by integrating input and output of that program. One of the simple definition of the Machine Learning is “Machine Learning is said to learn from experience E w.r.t some class of task T and a performance measure P if learners performance at the task in the class as measured by P improves with experiences.”

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