The Art of the Possible: Be the Technology Orchestrator

The CIO has an impact far beyond technology: they set the organizational direction, they contribute to customer focus, and they drive business excellence across all verticals. We call this role the Technology Orchestrator.

The emergence of cloud and subscription services, as well as the platform economy, have increased the pressures on IT departments. As the orchestrators of this digital innovation, CIOs are now agents and mediators for new solutions.

Above all, the CIO is a strategic business leader, and the role extends far beyond IT. The CIO doesn’t only identify the unique value proposition for an organization, they also develop the plan to implement it. By understanding key challenges and environmental factors, the CIO can get to the heart of what technology can do for a business.

There are five key elements in today’s rapidly-evolving technical landscape: the cloud, mobility, information, integration, and identity and security. Each of these elements is made possible by networks. Each also provides a clear example of the ways in which the power of the network can bring people together. The CIO, as Technology Orchestrator, manages and directs the network to support existing connections, and develop new ones.

  • By 2019, there will be 10 billion mobile-connected devices
  • By 2019, 80% of organizations will use the public cloud for storage and applications
  • By 2020, 30 billion IoT devices will be connected to the internet.

We are at the cusp of a significant change in network technology, driven by mobile devices, the Internet of Things (IoT), and above all, a desire for cloud-based storage and applications. Existing Wide Area Network (WAN) technology is unable to deliver the necessary performance and security needed to fully realize the benefits of mobile connectivity, cloud-based computing, and IoT technology. In fact, it’s estimated that within the next two years, more than half of all WAN infrastructure will move away from traditional routers, having been replaced by Software-Defined Wide Area Networks (SD-WAN).

By leading the transition to SD-WAN, CIOs can provide specific business benefits for their organizations, including:

  • Significant cost reductions over traditional networks – up to 80% for some organizations
  • Speed and performance improvements running platforms such as Office 365
  • Up to 4x improvements in application performance and speed
  • Ease of offering guest wireless at numerous locations
  • Robust security for organizations that deal with multiple providers

SD-WAN provides the bandwidth and performance that allow for the continued growth of the IoT, mobile computing, and media-rich, business-critical applications such as Skype for Business. It enables organizations to deliver on-demand access, while retaining the ability to be flexible in response to evolving demands.

Cisco is one enterprise WAN solution provider that gives CIOs the tools they need to lead their organizations past the disruptions inherent in solving business problems. The true benefit of SD-WAN is that it drives business excellence by supporting connections between people, while also enabling lower costs, reduced deployment times, greater application resiliency, and improved security. In recent years there has also been increased emphasis on moving to the cloud, which brings additional advantages:

  • Resiliency through the elimination of a single point of failure
  • Agility – speed is no longer determined by the central component

At an organizational level, this trend is demonstrated by the growth of working remotely and the establishment of branch offices. Nearly half of Americans work remotely at least part of the time, and branch offices serve 80% of users while generating 90% of revenue.

People are the heart of any organization, and there is no downside to improving their ability to connect. SD-WAN is the technology that will provide the necessary bandwidth and security for these employees and businesses, and the CIO—the Technology Orchestrator—will use it to lead their organization towards digital and cloud transformation.

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The Art of the Possible: Be the People’s Champion

People are at the heart of all innovation. And people have always used technology as a tool to get ahead in their work and increasingly, their social lives. As the business world embraces the online, digital landscape, it also becomes more human. To ensure that new technology will be eagerly adopted and, more importantly, widely used, the CIO can make a bigger impact if they become the People’s Champion in all things related to technology.

Cloud computing, mobile computing, the Internet of Things (IoT), and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are changing the technology landscape. As Pat Gelsinger, CEO of VMWare, states, “Cloud is supercomputing power at unlimited scale. Mobile is unlimited reach. IoT is unlimited access. AI is unrivaled intelligence. It’s the cascading effect of those four things coming together at this point in time that’s ushering in the fastest piece of technical evolution that’s ever occurred in the history of mankind.” As the People’s Champion, the CIO can meet these challenges more effectively.

An important aspect of the CIO role is to be a change management leader. By assuming this responsibility, the CIO can transform an entire organization. They need to reduce friction, create an environment for innovation, and make sure that customers and employees have the applications and resources that help them be as productive as possible.

Here are five key ways that CIOs can be change management leaders:

  • Devote more time to customer-facing activities. A recent report indicates that improving customer experiences is currently the top business driver for IT investments, yet only 32% of enterprise CIOs frequently meet their customers.
  • Push for customer-impacting innovations. Deloitte’s global CIO survey showed that 57% of CIOs chose “customers” as their top business priority, yet only 45% believed that their IT organizations used technology to improve the customer experience.
  • Support and nurture agile leaders in IT. An established process for innovation attracts and inspires effective people, and empowered leaders in IT can implement the technology changes that will keep the organization nimble, safe, and efficient.
  • Embrace the cloud. Cloud-based platforms, development tools, and infrastructure are critical for IT organizations to be quick and responsive. In addition, since CIOs spend 72% of their budgets on existing IT, compared to 28% on new projects, removing legacy hardware would generate significant cost savings.
  • Drive integration of digital technology in all business areas. According to Forrester Research, executives predict that by 2020, nearly half of all revenue will be digitally-driven. This is not limited to retail and consumer goods: industrial components and machines are increasingly digitized as well.

If people come first, products, and profits will follow. Without adoption, personalization, and exceptional user experience, technology is just hardware. But with people, technology becomes more than the sum of its wires and circuits. Pat Gelsinger of VMWare puts it best: “We want to embed just a little bit of the IT manager directly into each piece of silicon we develop and ship into the marketplace.” This combination of people and technology allows users to develop even more innovative ideas that will allow an organization to grow and evolve. By leading change, the CIO—the People’s Champion—can safeguard an organization’s future.