CIOs have the keys to ignite a great employee experience

  • Posted on August 15, 2018
  • Estimated reading time 3 minutes

The following blog post was written by Avanade alum Connor Hughes.

These days, every organisation is transforming in some way. Therefore, it is now a necessity to invest in technology to stay relevant to customers and stay ahead of your competitors. People are an organisation’s biggest asset and with the growing war on talent (especially in Western Australia where I live), it is essential they attract and retain top talent by focusing more on culture and their employee experience.

CIOs can help drive and define the digital culture
CIO’s now have bigger budgets than they’ve ever had in over 10 years. They are often the drivers of digital transformation within organisations, so understanding the impact they have on employees and culture needs to be a key part of their role. With the declining cost of some technologies, I believe that now is the critical time for CIOs to double-down on directing investment into improving employee experience.

I am constantly interacting with executive leadership teams, and especially with CIOs who are owning and driving the transformation agenda. What I am noticing is that very few CIOs have listed the impact of digital transformation on their employees as one of their biggest concerns. They typically have been focused around either reducing headcount, operational cost, or innovation, which is understandable given their role. Their role has evolved, and I anticipate that many of their job descriptions will include responsibilities around culture or employee experience in the not-so-distant future.

If you look at the background of the CIO role (or IT Manager as it was often referred to in the 1980's), you’ll see that it has advanced significantly over the past 40 years, and no doubt it will continue to do so based on the profound influence that technology has on organisations and their customers. IT Managers’ roles were initially to look after data processing, then expanded to look after the network and systems. In the late 1990's and early 2000's the CIO typically had a technology background but had already begun to align IT with business objectives and strategy. The CIO role of today has come a long way and they are now seen as a key partner in business strategy development, and we see a greater appointment of CIOs from other parts of the business, with little background or formal training in information systems.

Putting the hearts and minds of the employee at the centre of transformation
At its core, digital transformation is not really about technology. Research by MIT Sloan amongst other sources show that to make digital transformation successful, strategy, culture and leadership are the real game-changers. Modern CIOs need to focus more on helping enable a great employee experience and lead the way in helping organisations to embrace technology. In the same way that Agile has been so often initiated in the IT department, so too can employee experience so that digital it inherent in the ways of working. The ideal employee experience needs to enable an innovative and experimental culture, providing employees with the ability to test and learn, which is an invaluable strategic advantage, and one of the core reasons why digital businesses are disrupting traditional companies at pace.

Cultural changes within corporate institutions will always be slower and more complex than the technology changes that necessitate them. That makes it even more critical for executives to take a proactive stance on culture. With the evidence that investing in employee experience pays off, and a large portion of that experience being related to culture, it is essential that transformation programs be positioned with the hearts and minds of employees at the centre of that change.

As shown in the Harvey Nash KPMG CIO research showing that role of a CIO is becoming more strategic in organisations, with a core responsibility for the drive to digital, they should lead with employee experience and promote a digital culture. By doing this, they are making the shift to becoming a complete digital business a lot smoother.

John Micheal

Very informative article around CIO.

October 15, 2018

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