The automation of processes in companies is now considered one of the key drivers of digital transformation. In modern companies dealing with digital transformation, business strategy and IT are inextricably linked. This also changes the role of the CIO.
He is no longer just a technology champion and a trusted provider of IT solutions. Ideally, he actively shapes the business – as a moderator of change and strategic partner. According to analysts from Gartner, for example, companies that work closely with the IT department in this way can realize the benefits of IT projects 25 percent faster than their competitors.
Process digitization is a central aspect. Dedicated business applications that automate tasks and processes are increasingly becoming the low-hanging fruits of digital transformation. And they enable the CIO to better align IT with the organization’s business strategy.
Thus, the digitization of business processes is crucial for companies to ensure business continuity, reduce costs, increase profit margins and reduce errors or risks. It also improves employee morale and creativity by reducing unstructured and inefficient processes. The entire IT team and especially the CIO benefit from this.
Digitization projects pay off for the CIO in four ways:
#1: Get the employees in the specialist departments enthusiastic about digitization initiatives
Even if the digitization of business processes is part of the global corporate strategy, most projects are driven from the bottom up by the requirements of the users in the specialist departments. Whether automating repetitive, time-consuming tasks, optimizing processes or eliminating the flood of paper: the initiative usually comes from the users.
In this context, the “citizen development” movement should be mentioned, which has recently gained momentum. Here, employees with little IT affinity are encouraged to develop their own business applications using so-called low-code or no-code platforms. Involving the users themselves in solving their process problems is generally a good idea. However, citizen development is difficult to implement and often fails. Few users qualify as citizen developers, or they just aren’t ready.
This shows once again that IT cannot be bypassed. But: There are ways to expand, improve and supplement them. When it comes to process digitization, however, the CIO should initially concentrate on small, easy-to-implement projects instead of launching mammoth initiatives. Because with limited, focused projects, it is easier to involve the business users in the software development process. A CIO who listens to them and takes their views into account quickly wins them over. The numerous short-term successes of such projects also increase user commitment. This lays a crucial foundation – also for the success of long-term digital transformation initiatives.
#2: Measurable evidence of productivity gains
No matter what type of IT project, senior management wants to know how to identify, execute, and measure key deliverables. The success of digitizing simple tasks is often not easy to quantify. The results of process-oriented solutions, on the other hand, are usually easy to measure and therefore also to evaluate. Examples are the volume of completed loan applications or the speed of processing. Put simply, automating business processes enables CIOs to demonstrate ROI (return on investment).
The success of long-term, strategic IT projects – such as the modernization of the IT infrastructure or the replacement of the ERP system – is often a long time coming. In such cases, the CIO can pull an ace up his sleeve with quick wins in process digitization that have a positive impact on the overall business.
#3: Reliably positive results
Developing and maintaining business applications doesn’t necessarily have to consume vast amounts of resources and orchestrate disjointed software solutions.
By approaching the delivery of IT applications as process digitization projects, CIOs can focus on the outcomes to be achieved through the process, rather than all the different software solutions that must be operated to do so.
An agile approach based on continuous feedback is also advantageous. Because business process automation enables the CIO to quickly provide useful applications that run error-free, function uniformly and are easy to maintain. In addition, they can be continuously developed and expanded over time with more and more ambitious features.
Such an agile approach – successfully implemented – ensures good cooperation between IT and business and ensures the CIO the trust of stakeholders throughout the company.
#4: Added value for the board level
However, today’s CIO is not only responsible for creating a healthy IT infrastructure. It should also provide senior management with regular information that enables them to make faster, better decisions and implement them effectively.
“Workflow digitalization creates transparent, better-managed, and standardized, auditable processes that provide management with the strategic insights essential to business growth,” summarizes Mike Fitzmaurice, Chief Evangelist and VP North America at WEBCON. “This not only strengthens the CIO as a valued member of the board. It also cements its new role as a change agent that implements digital transformation and improves business workflows. With this, the CIO can contribute to real innovations and drive the change to a data-driven company.”