Complex Made Simple

3 Ways Middle East CIOs can embed resilience in their business

Organizations need to secure IT and business alignment, create data-driven architecture and prioritize reskilling, innovate within budget, and seek flexible licensing arrangements

Keeping business-focused and IT teams apart will at best miss the opportunities that technology offers CIOs must ask what technical capabilities and functions are needed to make their data systems succeed Reducing cost in infrastructure, consulting and implementation, training, and software licenses are top of mind

By Jules De Meester, Senior Director, Solution Engineering – Middle East and Africa, Salesforce

The COVID-19 pandemic presented a moment of truth for companies, many of which were not as streamlined and resilient as they once thought. Whereas previously some companies may have seen digital transformation as an option, today it is imperative. Across all industries, we’re seeing the need for digital-first businesses that are customer-centric, data-driven, and deliver fast time to value.

This can be a difficult shift, however. Data silos, legacy systems, and insufficient technical capabilities often feel like an anchor preventing organizations from moving forward. All of this has implications for the Chief Information Officer (CIO). Increasingly considered by CEOs as a key ally in their organization’s digital transformation journey, more and more CIOs are being tasked with reconceptualizing and embedding resilience in their organization.

Here are three key ways CIOs can better position their business to respond and recover from future shocks and to innovate fast.

1. Secure IT and business alignment

Traditionally digital transformation strategies have been driven by the CIO and a business owner whose KPIs have differed, but the speed of technological advancements and changing customer expectations mean today it’s now key that their objectives align. Keeping business-focused and IT teams apart will at best miss the opportunities that technology offers. At worst it will cause chaos. To prevent friction, wasted investment, and contested business agendas, CIOs must continually consider how digital transformation can be driven together and ensure success is jointly measured.

2. Create Data-Driven Architecture, and Prioritize Reskilling

Today, data is entirely reimagining the ways companies do business and make decisions. It’s helping them to create new revenue streams, find new ways of dealing with their suppliers, understand their customers, and put them at the center of everything they do. In many cases, it is not data that is holding organizations back. Rather, the ways in which their systems have been set up to handle data are at fault.

CIOs must ask what technical capabilities and functions are needed to make their data systems succeed; how these changes will fit and integrate with the organization’s existing technological landscape. They also need to consider how future-proof these changes might be. Beyond creating data-driven architecture, the shift towards cloud computing, AI, and app development, CIOs need to consider how to leverage and build required in-house skills; how to create a mindset of fast and relevant solutions; and how to reduce risks of change implementation.

3. To innovate within budget, seek flexible licensing arrangements

CIOs are under constant budget constraints, particularly as many IT projects across different business units compete for limited resources. Any chance of reducing cost in infrastructure, consulting and implementation, training, and software licenses are top of mind at any time. Where previously the scope of licensing deals and accessibility to software have often failed to tailor to their organization’s needs, CIOs must now seek flexible and creative deal structures which will fit within their budget frameworks. With flexible, scalable, and program-based licensing models, CIOs can better position their business to lower the total cost of ownership, minimize shelfware and guarantee continuous innovation.