Finding where the CIO role fits among all the c-suite noise and advancements in the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence are some of the biggest trends impacting business and IT, according to Deloitte’s Tech Trends 2015 report.
Deloitte’s consulting managing partner, Robert Hillard, said it’s understandable for CIOs to feel lost in the expanding c-suite as their organisations create new roles such as the chief digital officer, the chief customer officer and the chief data scientist.
“There are a whole range of new c-suite titles floating around; everybody is calling themselves a chief. Everybody is trying to claim a chief space and they all have got a technology angle to what they do,” he said.
“What we are saying for chief information officers is that your role is one of integration.”
The CIO needs to make sure everyone doesn’t end up going off in their own tangents, taking an enterprise-wide view on how projects integrate to get the best possible outcome for the business and ensure everyone is aligned to the overall business goals or striving for the same vision.
Hillard said this can be easy said than done, as other lines of business chiefs tend to want to either hold onto their babies or shadow IT the CIO with provisioning tech through the cloud and a credit card.
This means the CIO needs to learn more about how other lines of business run and guide them in their decisions to not only prevent integration problems down the track but also find opportunities on where they could potentially innovate.
“The CIO needs to have line of sight to what’s happening rather than line of control. We might have seen the CIO of years gone by having to manage really big budgets and deliver projects on time and to that budget. Now what we are seeing is they are managing smaller budgets and smaller teams and they have a far more strategic role.
“The CIO has a lead role in innovation,” Hillard said. “Innovation is not a hobby. One of the reasons we talk about outsourcing reversing, people bring IT skills in-house, is that it turns out that many of your most innovative people are actually technologists.”
The Internet of Things has “absolutely matured”, according to Hillard, and there will be much more automation in the applications. This year more IoT apps will automatically switch on or carry out functions.
“The first half of 2014, the focus was on collecting the data and using analytics to apply that data in innovative ways,” Hillard said.
“In 2015, it’s actually flicking to turning those sensors into switchers – actually getting things to automate. Some of the consumer automation is in the home with products that turn light switches on/off, with products that enable remote monitoring finding its way into business.”
“Businesses have now gone way beyond that with technology on a mine site, construction site, across the telco networks. They are collecting data and are able to intervene before something happens,” he added.
Vendors are going to consider the balance between the need for standards, interoperability and openness versus commercial interests, Hillard said.
“The vendors are also realising that there’s value in the data and they don’t want to necessarily open themselves up. There is still business value sometimes in being closed. Our organisations in Australia are going to need to walk that line, but organisations need to avoid fragmentation.
“Standards have not developed and there’s going to be a focus in 2015 on a balance between formal standards in this space and commercial pressure. Our bet is that commercial pressure will win over standards. The government will step in and industry bodies will step in for a level of standards.”
When it comes to artificial intelligence, Hillard said we can expect to see continued rapid advancement in capability. Humans can be random and sometimes challenge their own conventions or what they’ve been taught, usually for good reason. He said there is much research being done on simulating the unpredictability of the human mind.
“There’s a lot of research going on to attempt to actually tackle the unpredictability of humans and to try and find ways of making cognitive leaps and then testing whether those cognitive leaps are useful.”
Humans sometimes need to intervene in a process, as things may not always go according to plan. Hillard said scientists and technologists are researching ways for machines to learn those human interventions or why humans override some things.
“What we are seeing with cognitive analytics is this is the sweet spot for it to learn what a human does when they have to intervene in the process. So when that utility bill doesn’t match up to the human’s expectation or the meter reading wasn’t what they expected, when the mortgage documents aren’t in the form that the process expected them to be. What the machine learns over thousands of generations is what the human did and it is actually able to intervene on behalf of the human.”
Hillard empathised with the concern of humans possibly becoming irrelevant with such a high level of automation, but said this does not necessarily mean less jobs for humans. He said people need to start skilling up or embracing new career paths, as it will cause jobs to change in future.
“We do expect resistance… because we are actually here threatening jobs.
“However, there are new roles for those people to take on and that’s the key for innovative companies, because there are new value adds which can be found. The most successful companies won’t look at this as an opportunity to get rid of jobs, they will look at this as an opportunity to actually free people up to do more creative things.”
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