User Experience And Back Office Functions Are Critical

James Swanson, CIO, Monsanto
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James Swanson, CIO, Monsanto

Empowering Analytics, Big Data to derive value

Deriving insights from data continues to be a leading opportunity where technology can serve in a significant way. Accessing and empowering the use of analytics, Big Data, structured and unstructured content, and digital helps derive value across business processes. Opportunities include supply chain optimization, customer value, employee productivity and business partnerships to name a few.

User Experience and the IT Brand

An integrated user experience across core platforms remains a significant challenge for the enterprise employee base. Advances in mobile, user interfaces, BPM and platforms have helped but we have not yet cracked the agile mash up of technologies and data in support of end to end business flows. Think about what it takes to on board a new employee into a complex multinational corporation as an example. There is employee data entered into ERP, benefits and payroll setup, security access, user credentialing across key systems and CBT. Enterprise IT has strong tools that enable the plumbing but it has yet to optimize the user experience across a heterogeneous stack of technologies and services.

"CIO must be a business leader, a strategist, a psychologist, a technologist, and most importantly a developer of strong and diverse talent"

IT Brand as a change agent

One thing I’m always thinking about is our IT brand and how we show up for the corporation through back office function, as an enabler for business productivity or revenue enhancement and as a transformational change agent. Our brand is important as it describes the level of value we can bring to the corporation and how we react to or shape the future value of the company.

The continued buzz around Big Data and consumerization

The role of Big Data will continue to have significant value to extract insights across a wide variety of data sources and can be leveraged to optimize the enterprise, create value for customers, and create new opportunities for growth. The continued trend of Consumerization of IT coupled with Social, Mobile, Analytics, and Cloud will accelerate the need for agility and responsiveness of IT to enable the enterprise and meet an increasingly stronger reliance and expectations of IT.

My role as a CIO

The role of CIO has evolved past the expectations of reliable operations and delivering strong technology platforms to the expectation of how to leverage information and technology as a strategic asset. We must utilize disruptive innovation to create new business opportunities, accelerate time to peak sales based on customer insights and transform business process via automation to dramatically reduce COGs or SGA, all while enhancing the user experience. To do this effectively the CIO must be a business leader, a strategist, a psychologist, a technologist, and most importantly a developer of strong and diverse talent.

Advice to fellow CIOs

Each company and environment has its own culture and perceptions of IT. It is critically important you first understand the company culture you are operating in and what the “Brand of IT” is for the corporation. This provides the starting blocks. You also need to spend the time to understand and map the critical drivers of the business strategy and then define and link the IT strategy to those drivers. Assuming you do this all well, the most important additional skill for the CIO and IT leadership team is learning how to market. This is typically not a strong skill for the IT organization, yet it is critical to gain buy in, demonstrate impact and shape thinking.

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