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February 8, 2017updated 14 Feb 2017 3:50pm

The CIO’s Dilemma

Tech is hot right now, but will CIOs deliver what the board expects in 2017?

By Ellie Burns

There was a time when technology was the domain of the CIO. Just as the board trusted the facilities team with building upkeep, they issued the CIOs a tech budget and left them to it.

Now we live in different times.  Corporate boards have a new attitude towards technology.

It is no longer the concern of just the IT department: It’s the top of the business agenda.  In fact, there has been a shift; many boards believe their businesses are technology companies.

Businesses are waking up to a new reality.

The CIO’s Dilemma - John Slamecka

John Slamecka, Region President, Global Business, EMEA at AT&T.

They’ve seen early adopters and innovators leapfrog global competitors.  Disruptors

made the sharing economy, with new tech like ride-hailing apps.  They delivered innovative, fuss-free services people crave—using technology as a differentiator.  In doing so, they have set the pace of change for all.

In 2017 and beyond, we’ll see this even more as digital natives – millennials and Gen Z – come of age. The global population is on course to become a critical mass of tech savvy people, who default to digital.

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Technology might be the poster child for a brave new world, but it can put CIOs in a tight spot.


Digitize or remain behind

Companies must digitize their business. There’s pressure to prioritise this in business strategy.

These disruptive businesses are fierce competition to larger businesses. So CIOs need to defend their organizations and disrupt their competition.

This has meant business players, especially CIOs, are under pressure to carry out this change. This will only become more acute as the number of tech savvy consumers continues to grow.  As a result, business leaders have high expectations of what IT can deliver.

They’re finding it hard to deliver the innovative and transformational technology solutions the board expects.  And that’s often due to a lack of skills and resources.

IT departments generally serve the needs of managing operations and are not the ones to lead the way on evolving technology solutions. Over the years, they have prioritized technology and systems that deliver efficiencies and productivity. But prioritizing maintenance doesn’t set you apart. 

It leaves less resources for the technology solutions that are differentiators – things that contribute to the company’s competitive positioning. It must be other way around.

Businesses can make this change and recalibrate by reskilling their people and/or reducing their IT footprint.  Increasingly, CIOs are turning to companies like AT&T and making use of our highly secure access to cloud services and fully managed services.


 The big re-skill

Many organizations are starting to look outwards to free up resources around IT functions.

It’s our role at AT&T to help our customers be market leaders in their industries.  Our innovative, leading-edge technologies and services can help do just that.

Our network function virtualization services help to further shrink their IT footprint. Some need more. Some need less. Some need a blend of managed services and in-house skills. We can tailor this to the businesses’ needs.

Managed services such as these allow businesses to help gain more efficiency and reskill internal IT staff.  They also give them the necessary new technologies that offer customers a differentiating service from the competition. This would be a very difficult feat if the IT team is running at 110% capacity.

This helps set CIOs on the same page as the board – providing tech savvy customers with on demand, highly secure access to services virtually anytime, anywhere.

This mix of external managed services and internal resources focused on the business transformation will help organizations compete in in today’s digital environment.


The year ahead

Over the next year, we’ll see this trend grow as more businesses hand over operational IT functions to an external source.

We make it easier for customers to order the services they want. Above all, we help with the business’ long-term strategy and give them flexibility to capitalize on short-term opportunities.

Businesses need flexibility to drive a long-term plan. They need technologies to optimize their supply chain and sales cycle.  They also need agility and speed to serve demand, dialed up and down by rapid and ever-changing global trends.

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