Disruption’s mandate for change: Transforming the CIO and business relationship

We’re in an era of complexity and booming demand from a broader range of stakeholders

The pandemic has brought about a raft of new challenges for CIOs. On one hand, they’ve had to think about business continuity during the shift to remote working. On the other hand, they’ve had to launch new digital customer engagement channels to meet demand. On top of this, the quick shift to digital transformation initiatives has often made siloes worse and shone a harsh light on the shortcomings of existing IT systems.

The right combination of technologies and collaboration will prepare businesses for future growth. The Economist Intelligence Unit, supported by Appian, explored the extent to which different divisions of a business are currently working together, in order to better understand the way forward. The global survey and a series of in-depth interviews with IT and business decision-makers (BDMs) at major corporations, found that more than four in five respondents globally (83%) and 89.2% in the UK, believe that their organisation needs to improve IT infrastructure and applications to weather future shocks. In short, there’s considerable work to do. With businesses now focusing on recovery and agility, IT teams need to ensure they can stay relevant and provide resilience for the long term.

Digital disconnect

IT isn’t what it used to be. Most IT heads will tell you that their role is changing, and it’s not just the tech itself that’s different. The control that IT teams have over their organisation’s digital infrastructure and strategy is slipping. At more than half the companies surveyed globally (55%), business units already do more than IT to procure or develop new applications.

This is happening while backlogs are growing, and an increasing amount of work is spilling into non-IT development because the business needs more apps. When asked about the average number of months that projects have been on backlog over the past year, 12% of IT decision-makers (ITDMs) in EMEA report delays of more than one year, compared to 10% of their business counterparts in the survey.

BDMs are also more likely than IT decision-makers to perceive ownership over critical systems to be equally shared by IT and non-IT departments, suggesting tension over IT’s role. There is an issue here. Roles and responsibilities need clearer delineation aside from crude IT/non-IT battlelines. This will help everyone see the bigger picture of collaboration, growth and successful digital transformation.

How AI and RPA can provide solutions, fast

Across the board, global business leaders recognise automation technologies as pivotal in improving agility, collaboration and workflow across an organisation. However, implementing this technology isn’t always straightforward.

Some 71% report that relatively few of their applications have AI and/or machine learning capabilities, and 57% report that robotic process automation (RPA) projects often fail. The rate of failure among respondents in the UK was actually worse than the global average (65% versus 57%). And the number of people in the UK who said they had to cancel a digital business project because the intended app couldn’t access the right data, was also higher than average (55% versus a survey average of 54%).

Hyperautomation is a valuable approach for those who are looking for a more successful and less chaotic way of rolling out a suite of automated IT solutions. It can help by combining several technologies with people and data in a single workflow. In essence, it is complete automation at speed. Hyperautomation makes use of automation technologies that can coordinate different activities, such as RPA and AI.

Hyperautomation also allows faster application authorship using low-code. Low-code is a visual approach to software development. It abstracts and automates the application development lifecycle, and reduces the reliance on traditional coding by developers. With low-code, teams can collaborate on application projects whether they have a technology background or not

Low-code rises to prominence

Low-code emerges at a time when technology projects are a communal pursuit, due to the changing nature of businesses. IT is now expected to be faster, produce increased outputs, and clear existing backlogs. And they have to do this with a level of quality that surpasses the level of the pre-Covid era. But the dispersion of employees and enterprise data makes this more difficult.

It’s already the case that so much technology planning takes place outside of the IT team so it makes sense that all parties can come together and work alongside each other to produce solutions that work for everyone. That’s why the speed and unification delivered by low-code is so urgently needed. A vital aspect of the CIO’s changing mandate is promoting this collaboration in order to create a closer fit between digital projects and business goals.

About the Author

Paul Maguire is Senior Vice President EMEA & APAC at Appian. Appian helps organizations build apps and workflows rapidly, with a low-code platform. Combining people, technologies, and data in a single workflow, Appian can help companies maximize their resources and improve business results. Many of the world’s largest organizations use Appian applications to improve customer experience, achieve operational excellence, and simplify global risk management and compliance.