Today, every company is a technology company. Creative use of technology is a fundamental requisite for success in today’s markets. It’s not the only essential, but it’s difficult to imagine an organisation succeeding without it. Here is where the CIO comes in.


Companies are facing an existential challenge – their ability to discover new businesses and create ongoing value for customers will determine if they survive or not. This has always been the case, but more so in the recent past. Competitive pressure is increasing, fuelled by rapid changes in technology and society. As Deloitte’s Shift Index shows, the average life expectancy of a Fortune 500 company has reduced from around 75 years half a century ago to less than 15 years.

Every new technology exposes the organisation to a different set of challenges. The key is to assess the situation rapidly, figure out how it can be optimised, and adapt to per business requirements.

The long-term survival of any enterprise depends on its ability to understand and harness the cultural and technical forces that accelerate innovation cycles. For instance, In 2010, when Nokia was just beginning to feel the rumble from Apple and Google, Nokia’s Head of Smartphones compared mobile phone manufacturers that adopt Android to young Finnish boys who “pee in their pants” for warmth in the winter. According to him, temporary relief is followed by an even worse predicament. We all know how that panned out. On the other hand, Samsung saw Android as a beacon to overcome fledgeling mobile phone sales and adopted it with a vengeance. We can find several other examples of companies which were unable to respond appropriately to sudden changes in their markets and ended up in oblivion.

Rapidly Changing the Game
Today, every company is a technology company. Creative use of technology is a fundamental requisite for success in today’s markets. It’s not the only essential, but it’s difficult to imagine an organisation succeeding without it. Here is where the CIO comes in. CIOs today don’t have to imagine the existential danger posed by standing still – they feel it in their gut.

So, how does a CIO get here? IDC predicts that by 2019, 70% of IT organisations will shift their culture to a startup-like work environment. Many successful startups today employ a strategy called “Growth Hacking.” While there is no defined method, the core principles of growth hacking include thinking out of the box, company-wide collaboration, using data to identify opportunities and a commitment to being agile and nimble.

These are the exact ingredients for a CIO to drive organisation growth and achieve success. The CIO already has several advantages. They have deep expertise in analytics and the resources to combine diverse data sources. Combine this with the ability to get a single view of the organisation, and a CIO can be the organisation’s lead growth hacker. The key is to achieve speed, scale and span of control.

Achieve Speed: Fail Fast and Fail Forward
For CIOs to challenge the status quo, remove roadblocks, and out-innovate the competition, they need to be at the forefront of adopting new technology, even if that means taking it up as a small project. Every new technology exposes their organisation to a different set of challenges. The key is to assess the situation rapidly, figure out how it can be optimised, and adapt to per business requirements.

Consider Blockchain technology. At its core foundation, it has created a revolution with a decentralised system of records. It holds great promise to transform the industry — from the supply chain and digital identities to payments and audit trails.

The Global Blockchain Benchmarking Study published by the Cambridge Center for Alternative Finance lists more than forty-five use cases for blockchain technology. In an extensive publication, the report explores the maturity, benefits and challenges in adoption of the technology.

Other technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT), Edge Computing, AR and VR, among others, are setting the stage for broad and fundamental shifts in the company strategy. While it may seem impossible to consider innovation without considering costs and justifying new expenses, the CIO needs to move beyond cost-cutting to value creation.

Using Intelligent Automation
to Control and Scale A major purpose of corporate planning and control is to eliminate surprise or risk and achieve control. For a CIO, it essentially means “keeping things on track,” and be reasonably confident that no major, unpleasant surprises will occur. On the other hand, the ability to scale and replicate will have a significant impact.

One way to fulfill both demands is through automation. Even though process automation is not new (textile manufacturers have used it for centuries), new advancements in this field such as machine learning, natural language processing, robotics and speech recognition among others are helping organisations improve the effectiveness of their services faster and at a lower cost.

Many organisations have adopted Robotic Process Automation (RPA) which has great potential for automating repetitive and rules-based tasks. By contrast, nonroutine tasks — those involving intuition, judgment, creativity, persuasion, or problem solving — would appear to be very difficult to automate.

Here is where Intelligent Automation (IA) solutions can help. The decreasing cost of data storage and processing power are enabling rapid developments in the field of Artificial Intelligence such as recognising handwriting, identifying images, and natural language processing. When combined with robotic automation and powerful analytics, these cognitive technologies can form “IA” solutions that can either directly assist people in the performance of nonroutine tasks or even automate those tasks entirely.

For instance, banks are using automated fraud detection systems powered by biometrics and machine learning to identify behaviour patterns. Another example is how IBM Watson is providing evidence-backed cancer care to each patient, by understanding millions of data points.

Transformation requires a mindset change. The CIO can lead the charge by being a true partner to the business and go beyond keeping the lights on.

Sachin Bhatia
Chief Marketing Officer, Asia Pacific

Sachin Bhatia is Head of Marketing for Asia Pacific at Lenovo Data Center Group. He has over sixteen years of professional experience in integrated marketing, having developed and executed regional marketing programs for leading IT and Banking brands.