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The big shift: Why every business leader is a technology leader

 

Business & Technology Services
11 September 2019

Technology’s role in business has changed radically over the past decade – and leaders across the C-Suite are now recognizing and harnessing the power of digital technologies and trends to transform their business, drive growth and fuel innovation.

Two decades ago, perhaps even a decade ago, technology was perceived to be a business enabler – for greater efficiency, scale, and process improvement. Today, it is the driver of strategy. As Gartner says, IT is no longer just a platform that organizations run their business on. It’s the engine that moves the business.

Unsurprisingly, the role of enterprise leaders has also shifted as they take charge of a greater charter – to fuel innovation through their functions and protect the business from disruption.

With digital technologies such as cloud, AI, analytics, blockchain and IoT changing the nature of everyday work, traditional roles and functions and even the enterprise’s business models, leaders who are able to define a bold vision and follow through with technology-led execution will redefine success for their companies, functions and teams. And the successful ones recognize that they can’t make this journey alone. From partnering with their C-Suite colleagues to recognizing new skills to creating new roles and opportunities, executives are harnessing the abundance of talent to redefine their business functions.

Chief executives: It starts at the top

The Gartner 2019 CEO and Senior Business Executive Survey found CEOs are focusing on digital business to offer new products and revenue streams. Eight out of 10 said they had embarked on some form of the digital transformation of their business, up from just two thirds last year. Almost half said technology was key to driving improved productivity in their business.

As Gartner analyst Mark Raskino says: “Data-centric decision-making is a key culture and capability change in a management system that hopes to thrive in the digital age.

“Executive leaders must be a role model to encourage and foster data centricity and data literacy in their business units and the organization as a whole.”

As technology becomes increasingly integral to the day to day operations and longer-term strategy of business functions across the enterprise, the boundaries between IT and other functions have started to blur. Roles that were traditionally within IT are now entrenched within multiple functions, changing the nature of work and the way leaders must approach it.

Marketing: from creative direction to technology integration

Executives across the board are starting to own technology decisions as they begin to understand its transformative potential. Gartner’s 2018-19 survey of chief marketing officers found almost a third of marketing budgets are now being spent on technology.

For most marketing leaders, this shift in spending is an indication of the unparalleled opportunities to combine creative freedom with technology-led execution to create memorable experiences and positive business outcomes. CMOs are spending on marketing technologies – harnessing data to gain unparalleled insights into customers and prospects, intelligent automation to customize and drive integrated marketing campaigns, experiential technologies such as AR, VR, chatbots, and others to transform customer experience and analytics-led insights to identify and innovate new business models and revenue streams.

As Tricia Weener, Global Head of Marketing, Commercial Banking, HSBC Bank predicted, “The biggest challenge will be finding the right marketing talent to operate effectively in this changing world. In the past, it was crucial to find creative and experienced marketers to plan and execute customer-centric marketing strategies. Now, this is not enough. Marketing leaders are required to analyze data and communicate insights through storytelling, keep up with technology and its implications for marketing, and possess solid commercial acumen while maintaining the creativity and customer focus that is fundamental to marketing. Data, digitization, and innovation are the top three trends that will continue shaping marketing. Effective, real-time data analysis drives the success of the entire marketing journey from shaping the strategy and optimizing the execution to tracking results post-campaign. Marketers not only need to keep up with these changes but adapt and position them effectively to customers. Disruptive technology is changing how business and marketing are done. However, opportunities are there for those who are prepared.”

Finance: digital and data-driven

Chief finance officers have traditionally been the closest to technology spending through their oversight of the budget. That understanding is a key reason why they are emerging as the leading agents of digital change in some organizations.

Championing data-driven performance management, compliance, and growth models, CFOs are also instrumental in bringing on board data scientists, analysts, and experts while building a digital finance function.

They are emerging as the “explainer in chief” to the business, according to the analysis of a survey of 600 CFOs in Europe and the US by Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).

As the report says, CFOs have long been known for their adeptness at squeezing out costs, but are now acting more like advisers to people at the top level of management.

Armed with the relevant data, they are now articulating the difference between how management currently sees the company and how it should be looking at it.

Source: TCS CFO Survey

The sentiment is echoed by finance leaders globally. As Mathilde Bluteau, CFO of Microsoft France shares, “Financial departments cannot simply produce numbers without providing the meaningful analysis with high value add relating to them. Now, thanks to digital, this added value is much easier and faster to build. CFO must transform digital into growth accelerator.” 

Fueling innovation and growth

The change isn’t confined to marketing and finance alone – across business functions and departments from operations to supply chain to research and development to HR, leaders are rapidly aligning business decisions, priorities, and investments. 

As traditional portfolios and responsibilities evolve, enterprise leaders will need to evolve the roles of their teams, bringing in new and diverse expertise in the form of technology experts, analysts and data scientists to truly harness the potential of digital technologies. For those that are able to lead with a technology-first mindset, the opportunities are unparalleled and the potential for success, limitless.

About the author(s)
Business & Technology Services

TCS’ Business and Technology Services organization combines the power of business excellence with digital innovations to help enterprises and leaders be purpose-driven and performance-oriented, making the shift from shareholder value to stakeholder value. By harnessing the abundance of data, talent, connectivity and capital, B&TS helps leading companies around the world build ecosystems that fuel growth and innovation, foster collaboration and engagement across ecosystems, improve health, safety, and well-being, enabling empowerment and inclusivity, and driving sustainability and positive environmental impact.

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