Today, CIO‘s Job Is Exciting Than Ever Before

by Darshan Appayanna Chief Information & Knowledge Officer, Happiest Minds Technologies

Happiest Minds Technologies is a 2011 founded Bangalore based IT company providing services on disruptive technologies.

Many a times I am asked a question about how relevant is a CIO in an IT services organisation or for that matter, how can a CIO stay relevant in any organisation. My response every time states that the question is not about how relevant a CIO is, but how can a CIO change to be relevant in a fast evolving enterprise technology landscape.

Today, a CIO can play a critical role, if the cards are played right, to influence the strategic direction of a company. His foremost contribution is through being the voice in the board room for making the enterprise more efficient via investment in the 'right' kind of technology and optimising it. Secondly, his vision is pivotal in reducing time to market for new products by connecting the missing dots from R&D to manufacturing to supply chain processes. Thirdly, pragmatic CIOs will partner with business heads so that the best technologies can be deployed having a buy-in from the business stakeholders as well.

Consumerisation of IT and BYOD has brought in winds of change even in the most traditional organisations. With rapid proliferation of mobile and social technologies, even internal consumers are forcing a re-think of enterprise technologies being used. The challenge or I would rather call it an opportunity for CIOs given the short development and deployment cycles is to be abreast of these technologies, evaluating diligently and bringing up the most promising ones in the board room. In fact, more and more technology adoption are driven by the marketing and business teams using social and mobile technologies to reach out to the customers. If a CIO is not able to stay ahead of changing trends, business users will bypass the CIOs to adopt the technologies they see more useful.

For an IT services company focused on disruptive technologies, our internal IT is in a way, a measure of our capabilities and expertise in choosing the 'right' technologies that fit well in to the 'SMAC' world we inhabit. When Happiest Minds Technologies started, we were looking for the most efficient, effective and advanced communication and collaboration solution. It was imperative that as the Head of Technology, I present the 'right' solution that not only meets our operational and strategic needs but also represents the services we offer. Hence after an in-depth evaluation, we decided on using a cloud based email communication, collaboration and file sharing solution as this was a platform which would help us stay ahead of the curve with regards to usability, technology adaption and ease of use.

Cloud based services and mobile platforms will become technologies that can no longer be ignored by enterprises for both internal and external customers. The challenge for a CIO would be:
1. To ensure that the right service or platform is chosen which will co-exist and communicate seamlessly with existing enterprise systems and infrastructure.
2. The CIO will also have to build an ecosystem where niche cloud based solutions can be integrated, in a plug and play manner, with other enterprise systems. Data collaboration will be a key problem that the CIO will have to solve.
3. Gatekeeping for data residency and security of the platform to meet the enterprise's security guidelines will also be an area the CIO will need to focus upon.
4. He would need to maintain these systems with a very lean team of support staff.

As the owner for technology adoption in IT Services Company 'Happiest Minds', one of my focus areas has also been dog-fooding solutions that we have developed. Towards this end, we have actively implemented solutions on identity management, network security, business process management and testing. This not only helps validate our solutions but also helps in influencing strategic decisions taken by the company.

As we continue to grow exponentially, my challenge will be to ensure that Happiest Minds is leveraging cutting edge technologies that makes servicing our customers efficient and seamless and at the same time cost effective. To achieve this, Happiest Minds has invested heavily in cloud technologies to help deliver services anytime anywhere to our people that in turn helps deliver better solutions to our customers.

Today the CIO's job is more exciting than ever before. He is the commander in charge of a company's technology ammunition, using it diligently to ensure maximum impact. He is entrusted with the responsibility to build a solid technology infrastructure that will cater to divergent demands and also support future growth.