CIOs Wanted for Innovation Expansion

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Guest post by Barry Jaruzelski and Chris Curran

Do CIOs have a role in product development? Some say no. Call on the CTO or CDO or CMO. But those who wish to banish CIOs to the backend of the enterprise for eternity haven’t taken a close look at what’s needed in the enterprise as innovation shifts from products to software and service solutions.

We’re in the midst of an innovation boom. Traditional, standalone products are no longer enough to wow and woo customers. Enterprises are setting up innovation outposts in Silicon Valley to tap into the culture and brainpower of startups to develop sticky products that customers can’t live without. Call it digital or the new way of doing business, but savvy companies are converging technology, data and product design to expand innovation. Think of software and service solutions this way…

  • Are you selling a fitness wearable or giving consumers the thrill of learning what they’re physically capable of and sharing the experience with family and friends?
  • Are you providing a refrigerator or empowering people with a remote access view of their food so they can spend more time at home breaking bread with family versus shopping?
  • Are you offering a ride from here to there or the freedom for people to move fast and fluidly with on-demand availability to cars and data that enable them to make decisions about how they spend their time?

This trend is crossing industries, but consider the automotive sector as one example. Cars used to be comprised of mechanical buttons, cables, dials, levers, rheostats, springs, and switches. Now, high-end cars feature hundreds of microprocessors, handling the engine and chassis, climate control, communications, and navigation. While what is under the car’s hood is probably more relevant to the CTO, the connectivity of cars is white space for the CIO to explore.

Apps — and the functionality they bring — are central to every aspect of vehicle operation and the driving experience. CIOs and IT managers are adept at operating at the intersection of software design and data. Moreover, CIOs have been thinking about cybersecurity far longer than any other executive in the enterprise. The CIO’s cybersecurity experience will serve as invaluable as connectivity becomes a matter of life and death as demonstrated when researchers hacked and halted a car at high speeds.

Facilitating the fulfilling, flexible and freeing product experiences that customers expect requires new partnerships, skills and technologies. CIOs boast the capabilities that external facing product developers desperately need right now to expand their innovation efforts, including agile and DevOps, software architecture skills, and technology vendor management.

The problem is that CIOs are hard-wired to work through internal facing challenges in the enterprise. They live and breathe business processes and requirements. They implement and integrate other people’s products, not develop their own. As a result, CIOs and IT don’t think in terms of “products,” even though their skills will translate to product development in this new era of innovation. How can CIOs adapt their thinking and skill set to meet this emerging need in the enterprise?

As Strategy&—PwC’s strategy consulting business—delves deeper into this solutions-driven innovation expansion, it’s critical that the CIO’s voice is heard. That’s why we are asking you, the CIO, to talk to us about the innovation challenges and opportunities your company is facing. Please take a moment to complete our survey from the 2016 edition of the award-winning Global Innovation 1000 Study by clicking here. When the results are in, we’ll give you an advanced look at best practices in how to navigate the shift from products to solutions.

Imaged shared by George Pauwels

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