The Role of the CIO in Transforming Business & Enabling Growth

The ability to redefine business can come in large part today from understanding technology and how it can be an enabler of transformation. The smartest companies realize that a strong CIO can take customer and transaction data and help turn it into knowledge that enables businesses to better understand their markets. When needed, information assets can also help transform business and underlying processes. How viable is it to hire an IT head who really understands the business? Today many companies hire an IT Director as their CIO – someone who may be more experienced at managing and leading only technical employees. However, understanding the business and having an intelligent conversation about it in the board room is important. C-level IT executives are embodied in CIOs like Charlie Feld formerly with Frito Lay and later successful at Burlington Northern and Delta Airlines. CIOs of this caliber have moved into the CEO position.

Fedex transformed itself from a shipper to a major player in logistics. It is now seen as a technology company in the logistics and transportation business. The momentum coming from the top, enabling the CIO.

One important philosophy to embed in transformation projects is growth. Is the transformation enabling business goals and business growth? Here are some thoughts to consider from one high-performance CIO:

The implementation of change initiatives hasn’t always been smooth: business leaders (and IT managers) who had grown used to an IT department that merely took and fulfilled orders had to get comfortable with IT leaders who challenged them and kept an eye on the IT strategy of the broader enterprise. But the changes were necessary—and, despite the bumps, ultimately successful.

  • As the CIO for a rapidly growing technology vendor, one client had to scale the IT organization quickly so that it could handle not only its current tasks but also whatever might be on the horizon.
  • Keeping systems up and running is just the beginning; the way the IT function uses resources to satisfy the demands of the business determines the real value of information technology. Our client explained how they organized the team to work closely with the business in order to ensure that IT’s investments match the organization’s strategic priorities.
  • Even in the tech-friendly realm of Silicon Valley, IT leaders struggle to inspire their own people—and the business colleagues who depend on them—to move beyond an order-taking mentality by striving to understand the needs of the business and proposing innovative solutions to its problems.

Figuring Out What to Fix

Best practice: Conduct high-level interviews with executives and a series of work sessions to identify the biggest problems faced, as well as the top five or six things to focus on in the next 18 months to be successful.

For companies that are strong in product innovation this can not only help to acquire new customers but retain them with excellent service. For example when you sell to CIOs and other senior IT execs who understand IT operations, the expectations around IT customer support and professional services are high. Service capabilities that can remotely diagnose trouble in products and signal it, sometimes even before the customer becomes aware is a way of using technology to be proactive in providing excellent service, which in turn usually leads to growth due to high current customer satisfaction.

Setting transformational priorities – A business & IT partnership

Often when in rapid growth, companies do not focus on improving business processes. As part of a long-term growth strategy, improving business processes can be key. In a normal business process transformation, you would focus primarily on making improvements on the process side. Often, a high percentage of critical processes have IT implications, so you must deal with business processes together with the IT that supports them. Systems and processes are often tightly linked.

Assessment & Methodology to Develop a Roadmap

An assessment can reveal capability gaps between where you are and where you needed to be. Using something like Six Sigma alone may be too rigorous and might not enable you to move quickly enough to get from here to there. Instead, using a Lean or Lean / Six Sigma approach enable you to identify the five top critical process capability gaps that can prevent you from scaling up the business. Attack those gaps with gusto. This enables you to continue to build quickly while also looking at least two or three years ahead to make sure that we had a road map of where we wanted our business and our technology to go. We revisit the road map every year because our business is pretty dynamic. Our problem areas will change, and we need to be nimble enough to address changes in the strategy.

Improve Processes to Improve Scalability

For example, an order-to-cash process might be something needed to improve in order to be able to scale up our business. You might note that a large percentage of sales orders in your company have to be manually touched by someone on the order-management team. Since so much of your business comes at the end of a quarter, that really threatens your ability to scale. So start by attacking that from the business process and systems perspectives. Some companies reduced orders requiring a manual touch by 75 percent.

Strive to deliver tangible business value in 90-day increments

When the company doesn’t see the results fast enough, questions start to pop up. So communication and change management are paramount because you want to show clearly not only the road map but also the results that you are generating by working through the road map.

Significance to our readers: 1) read the Wall Street Journal / MIT Sloane Management Review‘s analysis of CIOs in the work place 2) No World Borders has helped CIOs in several industries to transform business process and improve organizational effectiveness through organizational development work.

Michael F. Arrigo

Michael Arrigo, an expert witness, and healthcare executive, brings four decades of experience in the software, financial services, and healthcare industries. In 2000, Mr. Arrigo founded No World Borders, a healthcare data, regulations, and economics firm with clients in the pharmaceutical, medical device, hospital, surgical center, physician group, diagnostic imaging, genetic testing, health I.T., and health insurance markets. His expertise spans the federal health programs Medicare and Medicaid and private insurance. He advises Medicare Advantage Organizations that provide health insurance under Part C of the Medicare Act. Mr. Arrigo serves as an expert witness regarding medical coding and billing, fraud damages, and electronic health record software for the U.S. Department of Justice. He has valued well over $1 billion in medical billings in personal injury liens, malpractice, and insurance fraud cases. The U.S. Court of Appeals considered Mr. Arrigo's opinion regarding loss amounts, vacating, and remanding sentencing in a fraud case. Mr. Arrigo provides expertise in the Medicare Secondary Payer Act, Medicare LCDs, anti-trust litigation, medical intellectual property and trade secrets, HIPAA privacy, health care electronic claim data Standards, physician compensation, Anti-Kickback Statute, Stark law, the Affordable Care Act, False Claims Act, and the ARRA HITECH Act. Arrigo advises investors on merger and acquisition (M&A) diligence in the healthcare industry on transactions cumulatively valued at over $1 billion. Mr. Arrigo spent over ten years in Silicon Valley software firms in roles from Product Manager to CEO. He was product manager for a leading-edge database technology joint venture that became commercialized as Microsoft SQL Server, Vice President of Marketing for a software company when it grew from under $2 million in revenue to a $50 million acquisition by a company now merged into Cincom Systems, hired by private equity investors to serve as Vice President of Marketing for a secure email software company until its acquisition and multi $million investor exit by a company now merged into Axway Software S.A. (Euronext: AXW.PA), and CEO of one of the first cloud-based billing software companies, licensing its technology to Citrix Systems (NASDAQ: CTXS). Later, before entering the healthcare industry, he joined Fortune 500 company Fidelity National Financial (NYSE: FNF) as a Vice President, overseeing eCommerce solutions for the mortgage banking industry. While serving as a Vice President at Fortune 500 company First American Financial (NYSE: FAF), he oversaw eCommerce and regulatory compliance technology initiatives for the top ten mortgage banks and led the Sarbanes Oxley Act Section 302 internal controls I.T. audit for the company, supporting Section 404 of the Sarbanes Oxley Act. Mr. Arrigo earned his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Southern California. Before that, he studied computer science, statistics, and economics at the University of California, Irvine. His post-graduate studies include biomedical ethics at Harvard Medical School, biomedical informatics at Stanford Medical School, blockchain and crypto-economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and training as a Certified Professional Medical Auditor (CPMA). Mr. Arrigo is qualified to serve as a director due to his experience in healthcare data, regulations, and economics, his leadership roles in software and financial services public companies, and his healthcare M&A diligence and public company regulatory experience. Mr. Arrigo is quoted in The Wall Street Journal, Fortune Magazine, Kaiser Health News, Consumer Affairs, National Public Radio (NPR), NBC News Houston, USA Today / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Medical Economics, Capitol ForumThe Daily Beast, the Lund Report, Inside Higher Ed, New England Psychologist, and other press and media outlets. He authored a peer-reviewed article regarding clinical documentation quality to support accurate medical coding, billing, and good patient care, published by Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) and published in Healthcare I.T. News. Mr. Arrigo serves as a member of the board of directors of a publicly traded company in the healthcare and data analytics industry, where his duties include: member, audit committee; chair, compensation committee; member, special committee.

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