How CIOs are Driving Operational Efficiency in 2023

by | Jun 16, 2023 | IT Best Practices

The CIO has come a long way.

At one time responsible solely for finding IT solutions to difficult problems, CIOs find themselves smack in the middle of making decisions that impact the operational efficiency of their organizations. In addition to finding solutions such as adapting legacy systems to mesh with cloud-based technologies, CIOs have to deal with rapidly increasing inflation and supply chains that unravel into trade chaos. CIOs also must manage IT departments with decreased budgets, fewer team members, and the need to slash costs whenever it is possible

What does it mean to improve your organization’s operational efficiency? It means learning how to do more with less. Enhancing the operational efficiency of your organization starts with modernizing its IT infrastructure. From there, CIOs drive operational efficiency by implementing several strategies.

Focus on Employee Upskilling

Recruiting and retaining top IT talent should be one of the most important goals established by CIOs that want to drive operational efficiency. However, the learning curve does not stop on the first day of a new hire. Improving operational efficiency requires CIOs to establish policies that encourage continuing education for all team members.

According to a report called Global Human Capital Trends, many IT executives perceive employee development programs to represent a critical component for achieving success. One prime example of the commitment to upskilling IT professionals is the policies established by DataBridge, which has designed a program to increase data literacy among IT professionals. The goal is to help IT workers to generate data-driven ideas rather than rely on standard transactional projects for data support.

Build Partnerships

Driving operational efficiency requires CIOs to look beyond the four walls of an office inside company headquarters to partners outside of the organization. IT leaders need to develop cross-functional support from outside consultants that offer a reliable pool of the brightest and most experienced IT talent. Although outside consultants can help CIOs drive operational efficiency, they should not replace in-house talent.

In fact, CIOs must cultivate a diverse team of IT professionals, such as accomplished data scientists, process experts, and analytics specialists.

Further Embrace Cloud Technology

The days of talking about cloud-based solutions to operational problems have ended. The time has come for action, which means moving forward by embracing more than just hybrid cloud-based solutions. As the chief solution architect of IT for the consultancy firm Syntax, Colin Dawes says 2023 is the year for CIOs to make cloud technology the foundation for developing IT solutions for their organizations

“For the year 2023, CIOs will encourage increased adoption of the cloud for the core business applications of CRM, supply chain management, ERP, human resources management systems, and other line-of-business applications, which is a change from the cautious approach of years past,” emphasized Dawes. “The need for this type of technology has only grown more critical in the past few years through the pandemic.”

Learn more in The CIOs Guide to Hybrid Cloud.

Cut the Fat

Before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, CIOs enjoyed several years in which their departments received approval of substantial budget increases. The pandemic has forced CIOs to think like business executives by trimming the fat from their operational budgets. CIOs must prioritize spending to justify the money allocated for different projects. This does not mean innovation should take a back seat to conservative fiscal policies. It simply means CIOs must allocate financial resources to projects that deliver the highest returns.

Willem-Jan van Hoeve, who is a professor of operations research at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business, discusses the new mindset CIOs must adopt. “In this current context, people will no longer invest as much in exploring new technologies that haven’t yet proven their returns in practice. There might not have been a case to cut those in the past, and in times of prosperity it was worth taking some risks, but at some point, you need to close down such projects so you can open up projects with proven results elsewhere.”

Automate Operations

Many CIOs have started digital transformation for their organizations by making automation the vital IT component for the business side of their organizations. Automating IT processes reduces, if not eliminates human error, as well as significantly speeds up the decision-making process that leads to a dramatic improvement in operational efficiency. As the former CIO of the United States Department of Transportation, Daniel Mintz says robotic process automation (RPA), in addition to artificial intelligence (AI), “have the potential of having value in reducing costs. There are candidates for automation within IT, for example, aspects of the IT help desk which can be automated with things like chatbots that have been around for a while but are not always fully utilized.” Mintz stated.

The Bottom Line: From IT Expert to Business Leader

The new role of CIOs to drive operational efficiency in 2023 means they have moved on from assuming only IT responsibilities. CIOs have transformed their roles from IT experts to business leaders. This means CIOs must take a much more business-like approach to solving complex IT problems and promoting operational efficiency.


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