CIO Review >> Magazine >> February - 2014 issue

Role of CIO is Changing from "Chief Information Officer" to "Chief Innovation Officer"

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Friday, February 14, 2014

Bjorn Goerke Sap AG (NYSE:SAP) is a German multinational software corporation that makes enterprise software to manage business operations and customer relation. The company has a market cap of $92.5 billion.

"Lifestyle is becoming work style" and end-user demands are shaping the IT strategy. The workplace of the future is mobile. Big data has a lot of potential too, but most organizations still lack sufficient information, governance and infrastructure planning. When it comes to big data, we are just at the start. However, huge changes are yet to come, particularly in the ever-growing field of retail and consumer goods, where vendors have huge opportunities to extend and enhance the end-to-end retail experience with predictive analytics. With Big Data, the problem of ever increasing complexity has not commonly been addressed. Significant competitive advantage awaits early adopters of this phenomenon.

Digital networking and social collaboration will also provide extended value to businesses. Embracing social media will help to get more motivated and engaged talents and to get closer to the end consumer.
We are also starting to look at the Internet of things, and provide software for machine to machine communication. Personally, I will be watching the growth of the space tourism industry with fascination.

These are Great Times to Challenge Previous Thinking

My role requires me to attend lots of meetings (physical and virtual over video/phone conferencing)! It is hard to describe a normal day. There are new experiences every day. There is learning for me every day. So I approach every day with an open eye and attitude, open to get new insights, challenge my previous assumptions and draw new conclusions about where things are going. I am a curious person and these are great times to challenge previous thinking. It is our responsibility at SAP to be thought leader in changing how business is done in the future and with information technologies how to lead and support that change in business.

Driving the Change

The new role of the CIO is changing from a functional to a more strategic innovation and business enabler, the "Chief Innovation Officer", as I like to spell out "CIO" when being asked. The new CIO has to stay ahead of the trends and make sure that employees can take advantage of new technology quickly. I am expected to find ways to come up with new ways of using technology to create new business opportunities and how IT contributes to the bottom line.

Cloud presents an opportunity for IT to drive innovation, but it also poses a threat because the business can partner with external sources and run applications. A CIO can only be successful if there is a strong partnership and collaboration with the business. It is important for CIOs to embrace the cloud and IT's role as an integrator. More and more companies will outsource to the cloud, and that will see a leap in software, infrastructure and platform as services. We are transitioning one step ahead of our customers, and they will follow. Security will continue to be a big issue, and this is something at which SAP excels.
I need to be in the driver's seat to demonstrate that not only do we offer the best cloud portfolio on the market but also how best SAP runs SAP Cloud itself. By driving the change at SAP in utilizing our own cloud technologies we become our first and best reference customer. To me it is clear, that we have no option here. The cloud is a reality that one might ignore for a while, but in the end this will only sets yourself back in the transition that will eventually happen. So my attitude is rather to address it head-on and be first – and thus turn it into an advantage over competition. I am a runner, you know, and I do not like chasing up with others because I missed the advantage of a good start in the first place.

Design Thinking as a Methodology

We massively promote Design Thinking as a methodology in our teams to provide user centric solutions. We promote usage of latest technologies, even if the outcome is still questionable, but getting experience is of key importance. I got a Double Robot for my office to encourage and improve remote presence of colleagues in virtual meetings that we have as a global management team. It's still early technology, but for sure gives us an idea – and inspiration – where things are going. What I am waiting for is attachable robot arms to have Double Robot draw a coffee at the coffee machine or press the buttons in an elevator to get further around.