The IT Department as Disruptor

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IT as Disruptor

Guest post by Sigal Zarmi PwC Vice Chairman and Network CIO

In today’s technology-centric world, IT departments must evolve from business partners to catalysts for change. They must advise and provide innovative technological solutions for employees and customers – and disrupt how business is done.

Technology is the driving force of almost every company in the digital economy. Case in point: in PwC’s most recent CEO Survey, business leaders said they were aware of the increasing need to put technology at the heart of their business. But the rapid pace of technological change remains challenging for many CEOs and C-suite teams. Today’s technologies provide no barriers of entry, no boundaries, spread quickly and can significantly impact an organization’s place in the market.

Weighing on the minds of almost all CEOs is how new, small, nimble, non-traditional players might disrupt their business model and leverage technology to eat away their revenue. There are many examples that have been well documented.

As PwC’s Network CIO, I am charged with creating a mindset, vision and infrastructure that puts technology at the center of our business and ensures we are helping our clients disrupt as opposed to be the disrupted. This involves acting as an instigator on how we can leverage new and emerging technologies to provide the best solutions to our clients and staff.

No matter what the business is, today’s CIO must advise the C-suite on which myriad technologies and trends to pursue and peruse to drive technology innovation. What new products and services should we offer? CIOs should inspire and encourage their teams to disrupt. To do this, set aside a small team of experts and let them fly. Most startups have very small teams who create the first product prototypes. But, I also believe large global organizations, like PwC, can replicate this type of ‘innovation lab’.

One way we are doing this now is by creating a virtual network of technologists focused on innovation and putting, front and center, conversations on how technology can benefit the way we provide our services. It’s important to note that technologists are not just those in the technology roles. In today’s world, technology is everyone’s business. This shared responsibility is the result of a perfect technology storm where mobile has collided with social media, cloud computing and online analytics.

It is very easy today to envision and create dramatic change. The sheer ubiquity of mobile devices has revolutionized the customer’s ability to interact with and engage with business. So tapping a diverse set of people with respect to age, background, gender, geography, and expertise is critical to get different points of view on how to challenge the way we work.

Additionally, everyone has come to expect accessible, portable, flexible, instant and customized products and services. PwC is challenging all of our teams to dream how SMAC (Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud) can drive revenue, create a better customer experience, improve decision making and enhance brand and reputation.

For this exact reason, I believe that today’s CIO is more important than ever in helping guide how an organization can disrupt. Today’s successful CIO must empower organizations to embrace technology and provide the framework for innovation. The CIO’s birds eye view of the organization and deep understanding of its processes front to end can bring much needed insight to help shape the organization’s value proposition and competitive advantage.

Helping others do this is also very important for me, especially for aspiring female technologists. PwC embraces this as well by supporting the UN Women’s gender equality movement HeForShe. I personally encourage females to seriously consider a career in technology. The way technology is changing how we live and operate is exciting and provides very interesting and challenging career opportunities. As a woman, you have an opportunity to share unique perspectives and new ideas that otherwise may have not been heard and you can inspire a new generation of women to enter the IT field who may not have considered it otherwise.

In short, as organizations place technology at the heart of their business strategy, CIOs must elevate technology to drive achievement of business objectives – be it through the way the organization uses technology to the way it deploys talent and teams to develop it. In all respects, the end goal is clear – become the disruptor, not the disrupted.

Image shared by See-ming Lee

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