Thank you to all who attended the 10th Metis Strategy Digital Symposium. Across conversations, leaders emphasized the need for foundational data and analytics capabilities to prepare their organizations for growth. Whether modernizing systems, designing new operating models, or upskilling teams for the future, an organization’s ability to appropriately harness the information assets available continues to be a key source of competitive advantage.
Below are highlights from the event. Stay tuned to the Metis Strategy YouTube channel and Technovation podcast in the coming weeks for full recordings of individual panel discussions. In the meantime, click here to request an invitation for our next virtual event on December 13, 2022.
To prepare employees for jobs of the future, technology leaders are focusing on upskilling and development initiatives that teach employees the latest technology skills while providing a clear path for professional growth. The most in-demand skill today: “data, data, data,” said Udacity CEO Gabe Dalporto. ”Every part of every organization needs better data skills.” That means not only equipping data scientists and IT teams with the latest skills, but also ensuring data literacy across marketing, compliance, cybersecurity, and beyond.
It isn’t enough to only provide training, however. Dalporto noted that attrition can actually increase if reskilling programs aren’t directly linked to individuals’ jobs and career paths. The message resonated with attendees, 44% of whom noted career pathing and other growth opportunities as focus areas within their upskilling initiatives.
Pearson CIO Marykay Wells reiterated the importance of creating an environment that encourages continuous development. Pearson offers weekly learning hours and a range of certifications employees can pursue to help spark new ideas and creative thinking. The company is also leaning into greater job mobility, encouraging team members to apply their learnings across the organization.
A strong foundation in data and analytics paves the way for new innovations. As organizations modernize enterprise data platforms and gain access to consistently reliable information, they are finding new ways to use emerging technologies to improve processes and services.
At Boeing, data is embedded across the enterprise and serves as a source of growth and resilience, CIO and SVP of IT & Data Analytics Susan Doniz said. Data-driven insights give the company a greater understanding of supplier networks, assist with product planning, and drive sustainability initiatives. Boeing is using emerging technologies like digital twins and the metaverse to drive product precision, building airplanes thousands of times digitally before creating the physical plane. Boeing also combines its own information with weather data and other external sources to drive additional value. “The value of data is not just data by itself, it’s how you combine data with external data,” Doniz said.
Emerging technologies have also shown promise in driving enterprise sustainability efforts. As Chevron Chief Digital Officer Frank Cassulo prepares for the transition to a lower carbon world and more renewable energy sources, he is advancing the deployment of industrial IoT, edge-based sensors, and real-time monitoring to improve the efficiency, reliability, and safety of the energy system. “We believe the intersection of technology and the energy transition is defining the rate at which we advance,” he said. Last year, the company launched Chevron New Energies to identify new technology opportunities and business models to deliver a lower carbon future.
Technology leaders are embracing more data-driven decision making processes and rethinking how to measure the success of digital products and services.
For example, every Monday morning, Vinod Bidarkoppa, SVP at Walmart and Chief Technology Officer at Sam’s Club, meets with the executive leadership team to discuss the Net Promoter Score of critical member and associate journeys from the prior week. Those metrics inform how the organization operates and focuses their efforts week to week. “Because there is data behind it, people can answer in a very data- driven way,” Bidarkoppa said. “It makes it a very rich conversation and it’s not just an opinion.”
Enterprises are also expressing a growing desire for reliable cybersecurity metrics. Orion Hindawi, Co-Founder and CEO at Tanium, detailed how the company is helping customers understand how their progress on particular KPIs compares to others in their industry. That data allows customers to better see where they have adequate protection or gaps that need filling.
Data-enabled products are also unlocking new efficiencies. Ameren Chief Digital Information Officer Bhavani Amirthalingam noted that putting more data into customers’ hands gives them more choice and control in managing their energy consumption. Greater accessibility to data also gives Ameren the ability to effectively track and reduce energy consumption in the data center and among key suppliers.
As Pearson offers a broader range of digital education products, it is placing additional focus on metrics such as time to value (the time between a student enrolling and actually starting a course), as well as internal productivity metrics to guide process improvements for engineers. “We are thinking about ways we can use data to improve experience and value,” Wells said.
In an increasingly complex economic and geopolitical climate, digital leaders are among those re-examining global talent footprints and seeking opportunities to streamline or automate existing processes. More than half of MSDS respondents noted that they are bringing on more full-time employees across geographies and exploring new locations for talent.
Denton’s, the largest law firm in the world, has grown from 3,500 employees 10 years ago to 20,000 employees around the world today through robust M&A activity. Over the years, each entity retained IT teams, structures, and systems. As cloud computing adoption expanded and cybersecurity concerns became paramount, especially for clients, Global CIO Ash Banerjee and his team are transforming and unifying the technology function, progressing the firm’s growth and integration strategies while seeking to balance local and global needs.
Anil Bhatt, Global CIO at Elevance Health (formerly known as Anthem) works to make sure that his global product team and engineer teams have the capabilities they need to meet business needs. At the same time, he’s focused on making sure team members are taking care of themselves. Bhatt’s team led two employee-focused transformations and introduced more flexibility and recognition. “As you take care of associates and employees, it changes how they look at company,” he said.
As the security and privacy landscape grows more complex, technology leaders must balance global rules and standards with country- or region-specific regulations. Kevin Stine, Chief of the Applied Cybersecurity Division for NIST’s Information Technology Laboratory (ITL), has been encouraged by an uptick of international governments and businesses adopting and engaging with the NIST framework. He notes this global alignment of standards as a critical step to aligning key cybersecurity outcomes and avoiding duplication or conflicting expectations.
As data-based decision making and digital tools pervade modern business, technology leaders are modernizing organizational architectures to help their companies more directly tie technology initiatives to business growth. At retailer Dollar General, CIO Carman Wenkoff prioritized people and processes in the modernization journey. After evaluating organizational structures and existing ways of working, the company grouped 105 technology domains into categories and assigned domain leaders to define and implement a future vision. The new structure is helping the retailer define new ways of working and find new ways to serve customers.
The prevalence of technology is putting more leaders on the path from CIO to CEO, COO, and other business leadership roles in the C-suite. Chandra Dhandapani; Chief Executive Officer for Global Workplace Solutions at real estate firm CBRE advised technology leaders wishing to ascend to other roles to stay closely aligned with business leaders, invest in technology closely aligned with business strategy, move fast, and care about customer experience. She encouraged leaders to take an outside-in perspective and “internalize being business leaders first who happen to have expertise in technology.” Dhandapani believes that CIOs are well positioned to take on additional leadership roles as they understand their organization’s data strengths and weaknesses and know how to use data to develop key insights.
Thanks to all who attended the Metis Strategy Digital Symposium. Amid a backdrop of economic and geopolitical uncertainty, technology leaders highlighted the need for increased agility as their organizations implement new ways of working and develop technology-led business models. Collaborating more than ever with peers in the C-suite, CIOs today are using data and digital tools to deliver continuous value to customers and to evolve product and service offerings as customer needs and expectations change.
Technology becomes key to understanding the customer journey
At our February event, attendees noted that customer centricity has been the biggest driver of impact and performance at their organizations. That trend continues as new technology-led business models create opportunities for organizations to better understand customer journeys and deliver continuous value. Mamatha Chamarthi, Head of Software Business and Product Management P&L at Stellantis, explained how the automotive industry’s shift to software-defined vehicles has given the organization a chance to understand the customer journey from pre-sale to ownership while providing opportunities to deliver on-demand features and continuous updates past the point of a vehicle’s production. By transitioning the business model from a one-time purchase to a services and subscription model, Chamarthi’s team is able to generate a recurring revenue stream and deliver continuous, personalized value to customers.
Ather Williams, EVP and Head of Strategy, Digital, and Innovation at Wells Fargo, is navigating a massive change in the financial services industry as customers increasingly adopt digital and mobile platforms and seek new experiences in how they manage their finances. That has driven a mindset shift internally as leaders place greater emphasis on customer journeys.
In an age where customers have higher expectations about their digital experiences than ever before, organizations must adopt an agile mindset so that they can evolve with their customers and take a customer-focused view of value delivery, said Prakash Kota, CIO at Autodesk. Technology teams increasingly look at problems with a customer lens rather than an engineering lens, thinking about where there are opportunities to remove friction.
Training programs aim to build skills, foster new mindsets
To remain competitive in the product-oriented digital future, companies will require leaders with a still-rare combination of business acumen, technology savvy, and leadership skills. To develop “bilingual experts” who are equally comfortable with business and technology and who reflexively think about how technology can be used to create new capabilities, Vipin Gupta, Chief Innovation and Digital Officer at Toyota Financial Services, established the TFS Digital Academy. The program aims not only to equip participants with needed IT skills, but also to embrace a product mindset and think about the how the company’s financial services capabilities can be continually assembled and improved.
While fostering a digital mindset is essential, so is ensuring teams have the necessary skills to take advantage of new technologies. This remains a challenge. More than 35% of attendees said a lack of needed skills was the biggest challenge to adopting cloud, for example. To address the skills shortage and foster a market for new talent, Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian noted that the company has committed to train 40 million developers with hands-on skills training and certification opportunities.
Leaders take an ecosystem approach to innovation
Gone are the days in which corporate innovation happened in a silo. Today, the ability to innovate is an enterprise-wide imperative, and leaders are eager to explore the ways in which technology can deliver new and surprising value. Technology leaders play the role of strategic influencer in this new innovation ecosystem, identifying new opportunities, engaging colleagues and partners, and aligning innovation activities with the broader corporate strategy.
At Land O’Lakes, Chief Technology Officer Teddy Bekele is creating a “farm-to-fork” innovation ecosystem. By using technology as a backbone to achieve the company’s mission to feed a growing population, Bekele seeks opportunities to “excite the value chain” and develop ideas that can positively impact stakeholders across the business. “If technology isn’t driving value in the business, we’re just a cost center,” Bekele said. At Land O’Lakes, technology is now the center of the business, and product teams are focused on delivering tangible impact.
Innovation has allowed technology leaders to gain more strategic influence in the C-suite as well. At Thermo Fisher, Chief Information Officer Ryan Snyder works closely with the company’s CEO and the Chief Strategy Officer to make sure initiatives his team are passionate about get woven into the company’s strategy. Innovation needs to be “super connected to strategy being set by company leadership,” he said, and the approach to innovation must be aligned with where the company is heading.
Economic and geopolitical upheaval sharpen focus on resilience, risk reduction
Facing economic challenges, geopolitical uncertainty, and ongoing supply chain constraints, companies are turning to technology to drive operational efficiency, reduce risk, and build resilience across the organization. CIOs across industries noted that they are digitizing supply chain operations for greater visibility, leveraging analytics to better understand customers, and re-evaluating global talent footprints.
In a poll, more than half of attendees noted they are exploring new locations for talent both domestically and abroad, and nearly 30% said they were outsourcing more talent to locations where their organizations have an existing presence. Chris Drumgoole, Chief Operating Officer at DXC Technology, said the company is discussing ways to reduce single-country risk and has placed increasing focus on resilience across operations.
“Operationalizing culture” becomes a competitive advantage
As technology leaders take on expanded roles in the C-suite, tangible value delivery and operational excellence take on even greater importance. Jeff Smith, Chief Operating Officer at World Fuel Services, remarked that the only unique attribute about a company is its culture, and that competitive advantage can be gained by learning how to operationalize it. To achieve this, Smith’s team defined 30 cultural practices, the majority of which could be scaled globally. He created measurements for both operations and leadership, conducted leadership maturity assessments, and even created a “Bureaucracy Mass Index” showing the ratio of leaders and managers to “doers.”
Chris Drumgoole of DXC noted the increased adoption of more customer-focused metrics over traditional IT metrics in order to better understand the customer experience. The company sends a Net Promoter Score survey out each month that creates a regular flow of feedback and data. He and Smith both underscored the need for clear-eyed, tangible metrics – that which gets measured gets done – and to embrace opportunities for continuous improvement.
Thanks to all who joined the February 2022 Metis Strategy Digital Symposium. A special thanks as well to all of our speakers, who shared their perspectives on topics ranging from creating speed and agility in an era of “predictable unpredictability” to developing new operating models, scaling innovation, and using data and technology to enhance the customer and employee experience.
Digital and technology executives are seeing expanded purviews and greater strategic influence inside their organizations as technology becomes increasingly integral to business operations. In addition to traditional IT roles, today’s CIOs are taking on key roles in revenue-generating activities, helping to define the future of work, and leveraging strategic partnerships to find unconventional solutions to today’s challenges.
See below for a few highlights from the event, and check out the Metis Strategy YouTube channel and the Technovation podcast in the coming weeks for full recordings of individual panel discussions. In the meantime, click here to request an invitation for our next virtual event on May 19, 2022.
Customer focus drives greater impact for IT
Today’s technology leaders are more customer-centric than ever before as data and analytics capabilities help organizations better understand the customer journey and transform the customer experience through digital. Indeed, nearly half of attendees noted that customer centricity has been the biggest driver of impact and performance at their organizations.
At MetLife, Bill Pappas is utilizing his combined role as Head of Global Technology and Operations to drive a more holistic approach to managing the customer journey. The ability to collaborate internally across data and analytics, cybersecurity, infrastructure, customer-facing service advisors, and other teams has led to a greater understanding of the processes and decisions that impact customers, which in turn helps MetLife design better products and services for them.
At Inspire Brands, digital technologies have allowed the company to serve customers and employees more effectively across a variety of channels, CIO Raghu Sagi said. Buffalo Wild Wings, for example, went from having almost no off-premise business before the pandemic to having almost all off-premise sales as people stopped going out to eat. In response, Sagi and his team quickly rolled out new features such as curbside delivery and contactless payments, tools they could then scale across their other restaurant brands.
Even security services, often considered a friction point for many users, have become an avenue for delivering value to customers. Transmit Security, for example, is leveraging biometric capabilities and other technologies to help customers access their accounts faster while simultaneously strengthening the overall security of those accounts and reducing system complexity on the back end.
CIOs double down on culture, people development
As organizations continue to navigate a challenging talent market, executives are doubling down on people management efforts to attract, retain, and develop talent. That includes building internal culture, enabling flexible working models, and developing upskilling and reskilling opportunities to create growth opportunities for their teams.
“People are truly everything we do, and as a leader, your role is to be [first] a human resources manager,” Bill Pappas of MetLife said. In addition to articulating its value proposition to attract top talent, the company offers a range of upskilling and talent development initiatives, including a digital academy, that seek to foster the technology, commercial, and leadership skills needed to lead in today’s environment.
Edward Wagoner, Chief Information Officer for Digital at JLL Technologies, noted that data and technology are helping the company design the future of work and bring it to life at the intersection of physical and digital spaces. With some employees returning to office and others continuing to work remotely, Wagoner emphasized that there are still many unknowns, and that organizations across the board will continue to test new hypotheses and draw on lessons learned to improve the employee experience.
Indeed, technology leaders will play a central role in enabling new forms of collaboration and creating spaces that establish a level playing field and sense of belonging for diverse and remote employees. “As digital technology leaders, we’re so entwined in the culture game that we now need to go figure out what are these experiences that provoke people to collaborate differently,” said Vince Campisi, SVP Enterprise Services and Chief Digital Officer at Raytheon Technologies.
Tech leaders become a catalyst for new business partnerships
While CIOs have always kept a finger on the pulse of emerging technologies, they increasingly are forging more strategic partnerships with suppliers, peers, startups, and others to gain new insights and develop new products and services.
To navigate the emerging tech landscape, Novant Health, Chief Information Officer Onyeka Nchege focused on identifying core capabilities and building a strong partner ecosystem that could deliver a positive impact and improve the patient experience. In 2019, Novant Health solidified a partnership with Zipline that, through a fast-tracked operation during the pandemic, led Novant Health to become the first healthcare system to deliver PPE via drone distribution.
Although the real estate industry hasn’t historically been known as a leader in technological innovation, companies like JLL have established new partnerships to expand the company’s thinking and to better address ongoing uncertainties such as the future of work and climate change. Wagoner noted that JLL acquired an AI company to improve data-driven decision making. He also discussed the ways in which JLL is partnering with technology leaders across industries to address topics such as sustainability monitoring and reporting.
A dedication to scaling digital operations and innovation
CIOs, CDOs, and CTOs have an ever-growing role to play in helping organizations adapt quickly to changing markets and consumer demands. Key to that is enabling innovation at scale and applying digital tools to enhance operations.
Innovation is no longer a practice that takes place in a separate building, but rather a capability embedded across the enterprise, said Charu Jain, SVP Merchandising and Innovation at Alaska Airlines. Jain further drove these efforts by developing an innovation committee at the board level. This committee provides formal commitment and accountability to innovation efforts and helps identify opportunities to apply technology to revenue-generating activities and guest and employee experiences. Having teams across the company pursue innovation ideas, paired with strong change management and new ways of working, has helped make innovation a “fabric of how [Alaska Airlines] does business,” she said.
Sanjib Sahoo, Chief Digital Officer at Ingram Micro, highlighted digital innovation as a means of improving performance while constantly reassessing the business model and ensuring that there are no opportunity gaps in the organization. “We perform as we transform,” he said, noting the importance of integrating operational excellence and value creation into all transformation initiatives.
Since the pandemic began, CIOs are owning more innovation and business value creation processes, said Sunny Gupta, CEO & Co-Founder of Apptio. That includes a shift to product-focused operating models, which requires leaders to think not only about technology applications but also new funding models.
Technology plays key role in building supply chain resilience
Supply chain disruptions and natural disasters have caused strain on global operations, underscoring a need to digitize and automate processes and collaborate with peers and partners. Increasingly, technology is the key to building resilient supply chains that allow organizations to pivot quickly amid ongoing disruptions.
At Big Lots Stores, data and decision modeling help build stronger and more resilient digital supply chains, said Gurmeet Singh, CTO and CIO. The ability to process data from each point of the supply chain speeds decision making and allows the organization to pivot quickly when markets change, which ultimately impacts costs, store operations, and the customer experience. Singh has also spent time learning from startups in the supply chain space to understand how new technologies are driving greater visibility and automation.
Gary Desai, CIO at Discount Tire, remarked that resilient supply chains and strong relationships help improve the “speed of trust” with customers and drive better outcomes. Desai works alongside the Chief Customer Officer and Chief Product Officer at his organization and meets with the CEO of their supply chain software provider to discuss ways in which technology can continue to deliver value for the company now and in the future. New ways of working, including a shift toward planned appointments at stores instead of walk-ins, also present new opportunities to apply digital technologies and enhance relationships with local suppliers.
We hope you’ll join us for our next Metis Strategy Digital Symposium on May 19, 2022. You can register for the event here. Stay tuned to our website for more details.
The fifth and final Metis Strategy Digital Symposium of 2021 is in the books. Thank you to the global CIOs, CEOs, and entrepreneurs who joined the conversation.
Looking to 2022, technology leaders said developing and maintaining strong cultures, motivating teams, and providing continuous learning and development opportunities are among their continued priorities. Also on the CIO agenda: maintaining agility and momentum following a period of significant digital acceleration.
Additional highlights from the event are below. Check out our YouTube channel and the Technovation podcast in the coming weeks for recordings of individual panel discussions.
New ways of working enable agility and speed to market. CIOs noted that a continued shift to product-based operating models, paired with advanced applications of data and analytics, has led to greater enterprise agility. More nimble technology architectures also support more nimble operations.
Increased customer adoption of digital channels during the pandemic accelerated the shift to new team structures, roles and responsibilities and reinforced the need to deliver products and services to customers faster and with less friction. Michael Ruttledge, CIO at Citizens Financial, noted a 30% increase in the use of digital channels. Over the past year, his team has introduced more than 900 features in its mobile app. Citizens has leveraged advanced technology in those efforts, Ruttledge said, “but at the same time we’ve had to get that to market very quickly, and we’ve done that by changing our agile culture.”
Pairing new ways of working with agile, scalable technology architectures has helped the IT organization at Target move faster and deliver more value across the organization, CIO Mike McNamara said. Today, Target has hundreds of products across the business that can release updates daily or weekly. “The rate limiter is how quickly our business and our guests can absorb change rather than how quickly we can produce it,” McNamara said. “That speed and agility has just been a phenomenal benefit to the business.”
Fostering a strong culture is more critical than ever. As the war for talent intensifies and organizations embrace more flexible working arrangements, technology leaders are thinking about how best to foster a sense of connectivity and maintain innovative cultures as teams collaborate in new ways, both in the office and remotely.
Asurion CIO Casey Santos noted that her team is telling the company’s story in a more personal way, emphasizing the strength of their culture and technology, becoming more flexible, and relying on less formal recruiting techniques. Santos’ team is also training leaders at the company to be better coaches and sponsors so that they can help employees through their journey at the company. Asurion is also bulking up its internship, internal mobility, and rotational programs.
Underpinning many of those actions is a push to create learning and development opportunities for talent across the organization. As the pace of change continues to accelerate, “lifelong learning isn’t optional anymore,” said Sri Donthi, Chief Technology Officer at Advance Auto Parts. He shared the guiding principles he has followed while developing an engineering culture: creating a comfortable environment for employees to challenge themselves and excel; starting with the customer in mind while looking at the big picture; and keeping innovation top of mind. Donthi emphasized the need to lead with empathy and care, and encouraged fellow leaders to develop skills including crisis leadership, virtual leadership, and inspirational leadership.
Companies double down on upskilling and talent initiatives. Creating learning and development opportunities remains top of mind for CIOs in the year ahead, with 35% of participants noting reskilling or upskilling as their talent development priority in 2022, followed by enhancing employee experience.
Toptal Co-Founder and CEO Taso Du Val predicts that there will be a plethora of online courses that will allow employees to earn certifications. More meaningful content and a better user experience, among other factors, will make these programs more impactful than traditional education programs, he said.
Citizens Financial introduced academy programs that allow engineers to spend 10 days learning skills such as React, Java, Python, or learning APIs, CIO Michael Ruttledge said. The company also developed 38 different badging and certification programs across a range of technologies. At Discover Financial, the Discover Technology Academy runs a series of courses while also serving as a hub for multidisciplinary teams to share their knowledge and experience with others, encouraging collaboration and allowing innovation to scale more effectively.
Target CIO Mike McNamara said engineers at the company are expected to spend 20% of their time on learning and development, part of the framework Target has built to recruit, develop, and provide continued learning experiences for teams. He’s also proud that many leaders who have worked under his leadership have taken on CIO or senior executive roles at large companies around the world.
Common platforms enable data-driven customer experience at scale. Heading into 2022, leaders across industries continue to develop and refine platforms that allow their organizations to leverage analytics and AI across a broader range of products and services, deliver sufficient governance, and scale new solutions quickly.
At Experian, EVP & Global Head of Analytics and AI Shri Santhanam is leveraging a technical and commercial platform, along with the company’s vast troves of data, to develop more products powered by AI and machine learning. Common platforms allow Experian to bring in new data sets more easily and create more sophisticated models that give individuals, particularly those whose experiences may not have been reflected in traditional models, access to credit.
Anjana Harve, Global Chief Information Officer at Fresenius Medical Care, has focused on developing a platform that helps patients manage their care effectively and provides continuous insights throughout the user journey from early care to dialysis treatment. Through connected platforms, Fresenius can drive standardization, bring innovation and speed to end users, and guide workflows while providing the most relevant and personalized information for patients and clinicians.
Leaders continue to unlock new capabilities with data and analytics. Nearly 40% of attendees noted that they expect to see the most technology investment in data and analytics in the year ahead, and 71% noted that advanced AI is the emerging technology that holds the most promise for their organizations in 2022.
Discover Financial CIO Amir Arooni emphasized the importance of advanced AI in giving customers “actionable data that empowers them.” Applications of AI at Discover include real-time fraud detection and analyzing past spending data to advise customers on what to purchase and when, providing guidance on how to save more money and earn rewards.
Advanced analytics techniques are also making strides in the construction industry, which has begun to embrace technology as more digital tools, accessible via the cloud, went mobile. Turner Construction CIO Warren Kudman said the industry is “waking up to the value of data” and has used digital tools to visualize and manipulate environments virtually, reducing the likelihood of costly mistakes. Turner is also using data and ML to track and assess safety conditions at job sites, proactively identify interventions, conduct remote inspections, and track materials as they arrive on job sites.
Dean Del Vecchio, CIO and Chief of Operations at Guardian Life, discussed how the company is using data and AI to develop insurance products faster, easier, and with less friction for customers. Thanks to new tools and new ways of working, some processes that used to take 45 days have been cut to 30 seconds, he said.
Another Metis Strategy Digital Symposium is in the books. Thank you to all of you who joined the session and to the global CIOs, CEOs, and entrepreneurs who shared their insights. More than ever, it is critical for leaders to tap into their ecosystem of peers and advisors for information, wisdom, and support as organizations navigate this complex and uncertain environment.
Culture is key in the transition to hybrid work. Nearly 60% of attendees noted cultivating a strong culture among teams as the greatest risk to operating in a hybrid work environment. With many return-to-office plans in flux and a new wave of employees joining firms without stepping inside an office, executives continue to place a strong emphasis on employee experience, creating new norms around equity, inclusivity, and productivity, and creating new ways for teams to engage in a hybrid setting. For technology leaders, that also includes managing a growing ecosystem of collaboration tools and emerging technologies to find the mix that works best for their organizations.
Just as CIOs helped pave the way for remote work, they also will have a role to play in helping peers understand the art of the possible regarding the future of work. The road ahead is far from clear, but today’s technology leaders are adapting people, processes, and technologies to help create organizations that can pivot quickly in the face of change and seize new opportunities as they arise.
Innovation comes from empowered teams. The ability to innovate at scale continues to rise in importance as organizations work to future-proof their operations and drive enterprise agility. To do so, a number of executives said they are exploring how to democratize innovation capabilities across their companies and unlock the full potential of their teams. Debra King, SVP, Chief Information Officer and Chief Transformation Officer at Corteva Agriscience, discussed how she and her executive team developed a culture of ownership across the organization in which team members at any level in the company were empowered to come up with an idea and execute it. The leadership team then focused on removing roadblocks and providing resources where needed.
Similarly, Tim Dickson, Chief Information Officer at Generac, discussed how the company’s first hackathon spurred new ideas while revealing pent up demand for employee upskilling. Sixteen teams participated, and over half of the ideas presented have been implemented as production deployments, Dickson said. Generac also launched a digital center of excellence that helped scale the internal capability to bring new ideas to life quickly. These new ways of working made employees feel as if their voices were being heard, while providing an avenue to develop those ideas into new products and services for the company.
Security is critical to creating strong customer experiences. Technology leaders are taking greater responsibility for the ways their organizations’ products and services impact the customer experience, and security is an increasingly critical element of that. Mickey Boodaei, CEO of Transmit Security, which received the largest-ever Series A funding round for a cybersecurity company, shared his perspective on the move toward a passwordless future, the evolution of identity and authentication, and the fine balance between security and user experience.
For consumers, identity is critical to processes such as account opening and credential validation. Too little focus on security and vulnerabilities or compliance risks may arise. Too many security measures and the user experience becomes an obstacle. As authentication technology advances and passwords continue to pose a security threat to consumer accounts, Boodaei anticipates organizations will make a concerted effort to go passwordless.
Companies scale up AI efforts. As companies continue to refine their data strategies and identify opportunities to turn data into actionable insight, significant analytics and AI deployments are only expected to grow. Nearly 40% of respondents said they expect analytics to be their greatest area of investment in the year ahead.
Machine learning and AI, paired with an increasingly sophisticated understanding of customer needs, is powering new waves of innovation across industries. Barbara Lavernos, Deputy CEO for Research, Innovation, and Technology at L’Oréal, described an experience that crunches data to provide customers with personalized advice on their beauty routines. The company is also using AI to mine its extensive store of historical data as well as real-time consumer information to deliver cutting-edge products. For example, L’Oréal has trained an AI algorithm to read the thousands of online customer ratings and reviews of the company’s makeup products. With real-time insight, research and innovation teams can then make relevant product changes and target advertising more effectively.
At Johnson & Johnson, new technologies have enabled the company to reimagine consumer health and deliver care for patients in new ways. Augmented reality and virtual reality, paired with AI, have helped train surgeons eight times faster by combining digital imagery with insights about how to perform the best surgical procedures. AI and digital twins have helped Johnson & Johnson accelerate enrollment in COVID-19 vaccine trials and improve batch production of vaccines, from one batch every two weeks to two batches every half week.
Embracing change and becoming nimble is more important than ever. Of the tips IT leaders shared about sustaining a competitive advantage in the current environment, the most common was the ability to be nimble. That means being able to pivot quickly when the market changes, seize opportunities as they present themselves and stave off issues as they arise. Indeed, more than 75% of attendees said creating a culture that embraces uncertainty, as well as the ability to pivot quickly, would have the greatest business impact over the next six to 12 months.
Companies are making a number of changes to make their organizations more nimble, including transforming their operating model, adopting new technologies, upskilling employees and bringing in new talent, and driving innovation through partnerships.
Nimbleness is at the heart of many of today’s technology transformations, including the shift to embrace cloud, APIs, and other technologies, said Bernadette Nixon, the CEO of Algolia. These modern software architectures ultimately allow organizations to move more quickly and evolve their systems to support market shifts, further empowering teams to become more efficient and nimbler in their processes.
We hope you’ll join us for our next Metis Strategy Digital Symposium on December 9, 2021. Stay tuned to our website for more details.