Say hello to the 'chief productivity officer'

  • IT services have become critical to how business gets done
  • Companies will be compelled to create a new senior executive-level position

Say hello to the 'chief productivity officer'THE maturation of cloud computing services allows IT teams to provide their business units with the applications they need to be more productive.
IT in 2016 will be more relevant, and therefore, more visible, to the broader business as it moves away from devoting its time and resources to making upgrades to systems and applications, patching servers, and other tasks that the cloud provider will be is responsible for.
This is driving a significant (and necessary) evolution of the role of the CIO (chief information officer) from one of an overseer of the IT infrastructure to a provider of services, similar to HR (human resources), finance and legal.
These services have become so critical to how business gets done that companies in 2016 will be compelled to create a new senior executive-level position to oversee the selection and delivery of these services: The chief productivity officer (CPO).
As IT becomes better able to focus on business processes and running systems better, they can help sales, marketing, HR, legal, finance, customer service and other departments be more efficient and effective.
IT can have a broad impact on its organisation’s ability to meet its business goals. Because the CIO is best positioned to lead this evolution (or may already be leading it), who better to fill this new CPO role?
Here are the five trends we predict will compel enterprises to look to a CPO in 2016:
1) The CIO evolves
Just as the director of data processing role evolved into the position of CIO about 30 years ago to address the spread of computing throughout the enterprise, the CIO is now evolving from only being responsible for managing the IT infrastructure.
CIOs can create significant competitive advantages through strategic use of cloud-based services and applications to help accomplish broad business goals such as driving revenue growth, targeting new markets, and improving customer service.
Eighty-four percent of businesses surveyed in the new Verizon Enterprise Solutions’ 2016 State of the Market: Enterprise Cloud report said their cloud use has increased in the past year, and half of enterprises say they will use cloud for at least 75% of their workloads by 2018.
With the adoption of cloud, IT teams can – and must – emerge from their windowless data centres to become more relevant to the broader business. They can provide business units with the applications they need to be more productive.
And as such, they will improve business processes and help all employees be more productive. In 2016, you’ll see how the CIO provides services that transform how work gets done across all parts of the organization – and will be in name or action—the organisation’s chief productivity officer.
2) Department view is shattered

Say hello to the 'chief productivity officer'

More than ever, cloud computing will connect services across the lines of business. Instead of remaining in departmental silos, there are work tasks that touch many departments.
Just look at onboarding, for example.  You need HR, finance, facilities, IT and more all coordinated to get a new employee ready for day one. The efficient delivery of services will become an enterprise discipline with the rise of shared services.
Pioneering organisations like NASA are doing this now. Their shared services team defined, structured and automated more than 50 services for IT, human resources, finance, grants, procurement and other support functions for their employees and partners to request services.
3) The rush to the cloud
2016 will mark the start of the land rush of enterprise workloads moving into the cloud, due in large part to the fact providers can demonstrate they are able to address concerns over data security and privacy.
CIOs want to put information in the cloud, but they also want to keep the keys to that data. In fact, many CIOs see cloud as intrinsic to their security strategy. Just take a look at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the United States as an example.
2016 will see significant progress in the development and availability of new technologies and techniques to address at-rest encryption and creating data accessibility assignments.
IDC predicts that by 2020, we will stop referring to clouds as ‘public’ and ‘private’ and ultimately stop using the word ‘cloud’ altogether. We will simply refer to it as ‘computing’ because we will think of the cloud as the standard way of doing business and providing IT support.
4) Work-life balance, thanks to the IoT

Say hello to the 'chief productivity officer'

Automation technologies and the Internet of Things (IoT) are ‘smart’ on an individual basis. The next step is to get them to communicate and collaborate to help us counter the feeling that ever-increasing amounts of big data makes work more complex and time-consuming.
IT can provide the technologies and services to make this happen.
At first, this seems to contradict efforts to achieve work-life balance. We work so hard to keep our work and personal lives separate. There’s an opportunity for developers to help manage the fabric of the IoT by creating rules and processes that allow devices and machines to work together in a better way.
For example, the Nest thermostat at home automatically turns up the heat 30 minutes before you get home. But one night your commute is slowed by a meeting that ran late and a delay in the arrival of your train to the station.
The train communicates the updated schedule in real-time via an app on your smartphone. Your phone determines your exact position and remaining commute time based on your location, the fact your meeting ran late and the train’s schedule. The smartphone updates the Nest thermostat, which delays turning up the heat.
The benefit isn’t that they are individually connected, but how you can get them to communicate to each other.
CIOs will manage the ever-growing IoT world and connect it to the enterprise for greater personal and organisational productivity.
5) Small data gets big
While CIOs are examining the universe of big data, organisations can gain additional benefits faster by leveraging the ‘small data’ right in front of them.
Small data, or the data of their operations, provides managers with insights into what projects consume the majority of their teams’ time and efforts, and where productivity levels can be improved.
The adage, “You can’t improve what you can’t measure,” rings true. The key is to capture the work in a record-keeping system with performance analytics to see what’s going on, and determine what needs to be done.
For instance, how quickly does an HR team respond to inquiries?  What type of work does HR focus its team on? If they want to change it then is it getting better or worse over time?
Transparency empowers managers to do their jobs. IT can provide the technologies to make this happen – not just in IT, but also in all service-oriented departments.
With the insight of small data, IT can lead the creation and rollout of automated system or online portals for employees to do everything from submit IT service desk requests to select healthcare benefits.
This is why the CIO is the logical person to assume the role of chief productivity officer.
Jimmy Fitzgerald is the vice president of Asia Pacific and Japan, ServiceNow.
Related Stories:
Shifting cultures: CIOs need to lead the charge
CFOs under digital pressure, CIOs under CFO pressure
CIOs need to focus on vision, not control: Gartner
The evolving role of the CIO
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