I’ve been an IT professional for close to 30 years, and over the course of that time, I’ve seen the IT industry undergo remarkable technological advances. However, the pace of the revolutionary changes that we are experiencing today, and their impact on business, are unprecedented.
In the past decade alone, cloud technologies and virtualization have transformed the data center, and data analytics are revealing insights that deliver more efficient business processes and more effective decision-making and customer engagement. Internet of Things (IoT) solutions and prescriptive analytics combine to increase the efficiency and agility of digital supply chains, and developments in machine learning and artificial intelligence are pushing the boundaries of process automation across industries.
This is at once a very exciting—and daunting—time to be CIO at a company like Intel. Not only does Intel IT play a pivotal role in leading Intel’s own digital transformation, our company’s products and solutions are at the core of the larger movement happening across business and industry to align technology, operational processes, and enterprise strategy to accelerate business growth and improve bottom-line results.
A more strategic role for IT
As we move through this period of rapid technological and business disruption, IT is more critical than ever to the company’s ability to compete in a fast-changing business landscape. Technology, and therefore IT, increasingly becomes the differentiator for organizations seeking to foster innovation and improve the way businesses perform and transform.
CIOs must have a seat at the table to help drive enterprise strategy and develop strategies for harnessing technology for competitive advantage and new growth opportunities. This is quite a change in roles from the days when the CIO spent the majority of his or her time focused on guiding technology investments and driving operational efficiency in the enterprise. But as business has become increasingly digital in recent years, the breadth and importance of the CIO’s role in driving enterprise strategy has exponentially increased and will continue to become more essential.
Technology is the tip of the spear for increasing business velocity and driving profitable growth, responsibilities that were primarily the domain of line-of-business (LOB) executives. IT shops can have more influence than ever before on how companies anticipate business trends, innovate to transform market offerings, and improve profitability and efficiency in end-to-end business processes. The limitation is whether the CIO is up for the challenge and understands the business well enough to drive that change and engage effectively with his or her LOB partners.
Looking toward the future, I see the strategic role and importance of IT only growing as advanced analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence reshape order and demand management and supply chain optimization. These new technologies will enable businesses to anticipate the needs and demands of customers and quickly address new business opportunities.
For instance, Intel IT is using IoT solutions and analytics to enable a high degree of supply chain visibility and automated inventory tracking to create a supply chain that can dynamically support new business models and expansion of our manufacturing capacities. In 2016, our automated inventory management system delivered $121.3 million in business value by reducing pipeline inventory by 12.5 percent. Lower inventory levels mean that money that was tied up in unnecessary parts and material can now be used for high-value activities such as new product development and expanding marketing and sales efforts.
Speaking of marketing and sales, even customer outreach and engagement, formerly the territory of the sales department, is now largely a digital operation, supported by IT. As an example, Intel IT developed a market intelligence system that uses advanced analytics to accelerate sales and drive net new revenue for Intel—all while improving our customers’ experience and increasing the efficiency of doing business with Intel. Our Sales and Marketing Account Recommendation Tool (SMART) uses predictive analytics to extend Intel’s reach, relationships, and revenue in our marketing channels. In 2016, SMART increased Intel revenue by approximately $115 million by using machine-learning algorithms and predictive analytics to prioritize which channel customers engage with, when to engage with them, and which content and promotions to target.
Digital transformation: Everyone’s responsibility
In today’s enterprise, digital transformation has become everybody’s business, particularly the CIO’s. That’s because CIOs have a unique vantage point to see across the entire enterprise and are already change agents due to their experience of evolving IT capabilities each time technology changes. CIOs also have at hand an incredible amount of technology and data to help advance business initiatives and quickly take advantage of new opportunities. When LOB execs want to accelerate digital transformation in their organizations, they should look to IT execs to provide the technology roadmap and strategy to support business innovation.
To be an effective CIO in today’s business environment, it’s not enough to just be a technologist. You need to combine the power of your knowledge of information technology capabilities with a deep understanding of the business, customers, and markets where your company competes. How prepared are you for this challenge?
Learn more about what Intel IT is doing at http://www.intel.com/ITAnnualReport.