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Pivoting priorities – pandemic based evolution for global CIOs

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By Toby Alcock, CTO, Logicalis Group 

Over the past 18 months, the role of the CIO has shifted drastically. The near overnight move to digital operations put CIOs at the centre of business resilience and showcased just how integral they are to the success and agility of a business. 

Organisations had no choice but to focus on digital transformation to create online customer experiences that are just as sophisticated as in-person. For CIOs, this has meant rethinking and optimising business strategies. Rather than concentrating on day-to-day IT management; innovation, adaptability and customer experience are at the top of CIOs’ priority list. To unearth just how much the role of CIOs has changed, Logicalis commissioned its eighth annual Global CIO Survey.  

The survey found that strong customer relationships have become a critical business priority. In fact, over three quarters (81%) of CIOs, agreed that redefining the customer experience will become more relevant in the next five years. Prior to the pandemic, only half of CIOs surveyed said they were increasing time spent on innovation. Now, this has increased to 79%, as CIOs commit to developing innovative solutions which meet the needs of their customers. As a result, CIOs are moving away from day-to-day management and toward becoming increasingly strategic business leaders. 

From functional to strategic leaders

77% of CIOs are investing more in strategic planning to create technologies to help their businesses engage with their customers. CIOs are now prioritising actively working with their customer base to determine how to develop platforms that mitigate their concerns. These findings from Logicalis’ Global CIO Survey reflect the astronomical impact of the pandemic on digital transformation and increased customer experience. 

According to the results of PwC’s Global Digital Pulse Survey, more than 50% of global consumers have become digital in the last year. These findings are corroborated in a similar Gartner report, which reveal that 80% of all B2B sales interactions now take place online. This recent shift in customer experience means CIOs must work with infrastructure to create data-driven customer engagements. Indeed, 98% of all CIOs state that the pandemic had accelerated their digital transformation plans. Neglecting the digital space is no longer a viable option. Digital transformation is a necessity for continued business development and growth. 

Doubling up on digital to drive customer experiences 

The digital experience has become one of, if not the most, important way to reach, connect and communicate with customers in the new digital age. The ability to provide an optimal digital experience will determine the future of an organisation. To deliver the digital experience, businesses should overhaul their infrastructure and leverage evolving technologies to interrogate the end-to-end online customer journey. 

CIOs understand the importance of improving customer relationships through digital channels. 74% of CIOs made the connection between the impact of COVID-19 to the importance of digital transformation with customer service being the third most targeted area in digital transformation projects. 

Based on these results, the question for business leaders and CIOs really becomes, ‘How well do you really know your customers?’ followed by, ‘How well can you currently meet their needs?’ These questions are critical to success as we venture into the post-pandemic digital economy. 

Attaining prosperity, and profit 

CIOs need to innovate to build agile and adaptable infrastructures which unearth hidden insights in the digital customer journey to empower closer customer connections. As IT leaders, they have the technical expertise to interpret customer engagement data to improve the customer experience, optimise operations and achieve their business objectives. 

To guarantee business resilience and growth CIOs can make use of external experts to help drive more effective customer engagements. A third of survey respondents are already seeing pandemic-driven changes in customer requirements as drivers for sourcing outside help. Balancing all differing strategic elements without impacting the overall efficiency of the business or negatively impacting employee satisfaction is a growing challenge for CIOs. 

However, a trusted managed service provider can identify weaknesses, support on innovation and efficiency and relieve pressure on internal teams. Not only can businesses then increase IT productivity, alongside employee and customer satisfaction, but they can also rest assured knowing that they are future proofing an optimised infrastructure model mapped to their unique business needs. A better, more flexible infrastructure will translate to higher agility, digital ability, customer satisfaction rates and ultimately business growth. 

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