The Uber CIO
- 08 June, 2016 09:00
In the age of digital transformation, the selection of a CIO is based upon the change agenda that is confronting the CEO and executive board. The CIO has a critical role to drive and support business transformation.
When you are a CEO and facing a period of significant change then you need your CIO to bring – as Americans would say – their “A game” to the table. CIOs also need to have the requisite experience and behaviour to lead this transformation.
Perhaps what is required is that CEOs need to hire an Uber CIO?
The Uber CIO is on the clock
Like any Uber service, there is a defined start time that the CIO is required and this is for a specific short to medium timeframe. No longer is a bus service that provides the same route everyday going to cut the mustard – the CIO has to adapt to the new digital demands.
That being said, the CIO has to still provide that very bus service for basic transactions to run the business. On top of this, the Uber CIO has to also master the enterprise service bus that will enable digital innovation to be possible.
This provides a flavour of the Uber CIO, but I think there is much more that is required.
Uber has many flavours
Let’s remember that Uber started life as an alternative taxi service but has morphed into a series of products for ride sharing, mini bus sharing, elderly patient transport and now food delivery.
The CIO has also to adapt and provide a multitude of services in areas such as digital delivery, information management and business intelligence, big data, mobile apps, payments technology, cloud, lean startup, and cyber security to name a few.
In future, the Uber CIO will also have to be knowledgeable about 3D printing, Magic Leap graphics and blockchain.
The list is endless and in fact, a massive challenge for any one individual to be a master of all domains.
Just like the Uber service, the CIO is expected to be able to adjust to the demands of the market. One fascinating innovation that Uber has introduced is the concept of ‘surge pricing.’ Is there a parallel in this analogy?
The Uber CIO algorithm
Uber claims that it uses ‘surge pricing’ to create the most efficient market and maximise the number of rides it can provide. The net result is that prices can vary by a market factor that is recalculated every 5 minutes.
While I’d love to be paid a premium index on a formula, sadly that is not going to happen in my CIO career.
However, there is a lesson to be learnt for the Uber CIO that can grasp the power of digital offering that is able to use machine learning to dynamically re-price based on the actual market.
I would suggest that the Uber CIO will have to integrate such engines into their core systems should their industries start to have smart IOT objects that could enable such pricing to occur.
The real meaning of Uber CIO
Uber by definition is “an outstanding or supreme example of a particular kind of person or thing”. The Uber CIO is actually going to be that kind of individual leader that can provide extraordinary transformation for a business.
Uber CIOs will be the ones that will be in demand by enterprises that are embarking on the most complex journeys. No longer will a simple taxis be sufficient, much greater utility and value is necessary.
Perhaps Friedrich Nietzsche had this already figured out, he talked about the concept of an Uber man as a person “who has superseded the bondage of the human condition and reached a liberated state – one of free play and creativity.”
Now that sounds like a great stretch development objective for the CIO.
David Gee is the former CIO of CUA where he recently completed a core banking transformation. He has more than 18 years' experience as a CIO, and was also previously director at KPMG Consulting. Connect with David on LinkedIn.