The New CIO: Transforming Digital Enterprise Through Strategy, Employee Engagement, Business Process And (Oh Yeah!) Technology

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In case you missed it, the days when the CIO was relegated to merely keeping technology operational are long gone.  Doing business in today’s digital environment means that the CIO has a much more comprehensive role in terms of being more strategic, more social and more customer-focused.

To set the stage, let’s consider key factors for digital enterprise success…

#1: Any digital enterprise needs data to support customer needs and wants.

Without customer data, the marketing team cannot develop personalized campaigns and authentic relationships. Marketing needs the ability to control on-going innovation in all customer experiences, from pre-acquisition to post-login. The CIO holds the key to unlocking all the data and making it work in a way that CMOs can actually use to have relevant conversations. Going further, the ‘internal customer’, or employee / user, must also be supported to easily design and deliver unified customer experiences with minimal training (through intuitive interfaces, etc.).

#2: Mature digital enterprise has transformed the business through leveraging technology.

Individual technologies, tactics or techniques can no longer meet the needs of comprehensive, 360-degree customer support. Instead, successful digital enterprise transforms the business - everything from workflows to facilitating collaboration to iterative development for new functionalities. CIOs are not only an integral part of this transformation but must help lead it.

#3: Trust is paramount for long-term customer relationships.

All enduring customer relationships are rooted in trust. For a CIO, this naturally translates into trustworthy and responsible data collection, storage and usage protocols. Ensuring system security and stability with transparency, and giving customers more control over their data  is the domain of the ‘Transformer CIO’.

#4: Taking risks must be a calculated endeavor.

With the plethora of third-party and legacy systems, any technological system can be overwhelmed in terms of integration and maintenance. Individual employees may decide to use a new tool that then must be assimilated and supported. CIOs are under tremendous pressure with multiple requests and the multiplication of apps. Taking on new tools in this way introduces risk into the system. CIOs must have agility and speed to minimize, or even eliminate, technological risk while ‘future-proofing’ the system within a rapidly changing tech landscape.   

#5: Internal collaboration and cohesion leverages organizational assets.

The #1 asset for any organization is the employee workforce because they will drive new solutions, service and bottom-line performance; their engagement is organizational success. Breaking down internal silos facilitates communication and ‘group-think’ decision-making, surfaces internal expertise  and accelerates results. CIOs have the ability to ensure there is a common infrastructure, along with collaborative workspaces and inclusive workflows.

It is evident that digital enterprise is shifting the CIO’s role and, as a result, a new and more strategic role for the CIO is emerging… that of the ‘Transformer CIO’.

The Transformer CIO uses technological knowledge and blends it with enterprise-wide relevance for all customers and the users who support them. This new brand of CIO removes IT constraints and becomes a partner with the CMO for enterprise transformation on multiple levels.  The new CIO understands how Generation Customer is driving operations on every level.

In short, this new Transformer CIO becomes an agent of change and hero of digital transformation for their organization.

Consider the mindset shift that is occurring for today’s successful CIOs:


You may find that you are already in this new paradigm but did not know it, or you might need to communicate what you know and are doing in new ways. Either way, you are on the leading edge of digital enterprise transformation. And that will transform the future of your organization and, quite possibly, your industry.

Notice that while technology is one of your main tools for the success of your organization, your mindset, approach and strategy are equally important to the success of your organization. This post would be remiss if technology were not at least mentioned, so following are three elements that comprise effective technology for enterprises today.

1. Open, Integratable Platform for Apps, Data, Content – The technology must Integrate well with legacy systems and provide a common user experience platform for rapid, agile development of new employee and customer experiences. It should ‘industrialize’ new functionalities by being scalable and able to deploy quickly.

2. Future-Proof Open Stack – Standards-compliant open stack, and leverage of the worldwide open source community, provides assurance of ongoing innovation to provide agility and keep pace with dynamic changes in technology.

3. Transparent and Ethical Data Practices  – Since I have worked on the Apache Unomi Project from day one, this is a subject that I wholeheartedly enjoy talking about - customer data collection, storage, usage and protection. Technology systems MUST address customer preferences about their data with transparency for ethical web experience management.

The good news is that there is tremendous opportunity for CIOs like never before to participate in digital transformation - everything that touches a customer or user becomes a part of the ecosystem that falls within the domain of the CIO. It’s a pivot point for enterprise-wide transformation. Let me be the first to welcome you to being a Transformer CIO!  

I would really like to hear your thoughts on how what I’ve said here relates to your organization - please leave me a comment below.

Serge Huber
Serge Huber

Serge Huber is co-founder and CTO of Jahia. He is a member of the Apache Software Foundation and Chair of the Apache Unomi project management committee as well as a co-chair of the OASIS Customer Data Platform Specification.