Digital Business Strategy, Interviews

CIO Executive Council: The CIO within digital and disruptive innovation

Pamela Rucker
CIO Advisor and Co-Chair, Women in Leadership, CIO Executive Council

As CIOs are taking over a more strategic role than ever, i.CONECT IT spoke with Pamela Rucker, CIO Executive Council & St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, to discuss the impact of digital on whole industries and their customers. Pamela has worked in diverse industries and her expertise and leadership philosophy have been instrumental in providing solutions that add significant value to corporate profitability. Her background includes engagements with JP Morgan Chase, IBM, GMAC, Nabisco and Waste Management. Pamela has been a featured speaker at events in the United States, Canada and Europe, including Forrester’s IT Leadership Conference, CIO Magazine’s Perspectives Conference, Cisco’s Partner’s Conference, and the CIO Executive Summit.

Your keynote at Rethink! ITEM 2016 will have as a main focus digital and disruptive innovation. What do you think is the value of digital in today’s marketplace?

Pamela Rucker: I think the digital revolution is redefining how the world actually works for every person, every day. It has transformed how companies are structured, how employees do their work, how companies engage with their clients, how information is shared, how innovation is occurring, where companies invest their resources, and how companies look at strategy. Because all of this is happening at such a rapid rate, leaders must change everything they currently think about how they do their work, sell their products, connect with their customers and generate value.

By looking at their value, strategy and mission through a digital lens, they are able to reassess and (many times redefine) their long-term strategic focus and discover ways to quickly operationalize it in a rapidly changing environment. Focusing on digital shows companies how to see where their offerings are obsolete, and where their impact is being diminished because of their customers’ access to more rich experiences. This environment creates an urgency around change, and can prompt companies to consider innovations and strategic offerings that might have been outside of their comfort zone in the past.

How would you say that the role of the CIO at a company has change over the past years as a result of the digital transformation?

In the past, many CIOs were relegated to responsibilities that were limited to the technology arena, like the management of infrastructure and the development of applications. Even when attempting to align with their business counterparts, they ran the risk of being seen as an outside player that had learned to use their business savvy to become an insider, but were never seen as equal players at the business table.

Today, CIOs are uniquely positioned in the organization, because while they still run critical infrastructure to keep the company functioning, and they still develop applications that are integral to the company’s success, they also have the opportunity to become far more strategic, and to use the requirements around digital to drive collaboration with their peers to lead innovation. By understanding the impact of digital on their company, their industry, and their customers, they can create richer user experiences that become the key to an engine that drives new revenue. This requires that CIOs have competencies around digital strategy and digital innovation. They can then combine those competencies with their market knowledge to help their companies become more competitive and sustain organizational success.

From your own viewpoint, could you tell me a bit about what you think the future IT trends and developments will be?

When I consider the transformative effect of digital and the emergence of the Internet of Things, I expect to see a rapid transformation in the way we work, live, play, connect, buy and sell every day. The world as we know it will look fundamentally different 10 years from now, and incorporation of the digital experience into our everyday lives will be a norm and no longer an innovation. IT will be at the core of that metamorphosis, but I don’t think it will be IT as we know it today. I think we will continue to see the commoditization of roles that were once considered high-skilled and differentiated.

At the same time, we will see the growth of leaders that are more business oriented, strategic, communicative and collaborative. I think technical functions will relegated to a technical department, but digital leadership will reside throughout the entire company, and be housed in roles that don’t sound like traditional IT positions, although they will require strong technical acumen. I also believe we will continue to see digital permeate everything we do, so much so that the marriage between business and IT will become the foundation, platform, air and aura of the most successful companies in the future. This new IT will require leaders that advance the company by their mastery of the market and customer experiences, and not just the technologies that run them.

What are your expectations from the presentations and networking session at Rethink! ITEM Europe?

I am looking forward to a rich, collaborative experience at the conference, and expect to hear from leaders with experiences and executive strategies related to their domain. Whether it’s technology management, enterprise mobility, business transformation or organizational agility, I’m looking forward to hearing new ways to create business value, lead innovation and capitalize on opportunities to improve company performance. I expect the networking sessions to be open and collaborative, driven by mutual interests, and provide opportunities to meet new colleagues and birth strategic alliances.

Thank you for your cooperation and the insights you shared with us!

Interview partners: Nikolaos Kapetanis and Pamela Rucker

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