Several decades ago, a somewhat new concept was introduced to the business world that would revolutionize the way organizations managed their IT functions. It was the introduction of the support role known as the Chief Information Officer (CIO). While at first it seemed almost frivolous to add another C-Suite title, CIO’s have fast become one of the most integral parts of executive management in just about every mid to large sized business.
The CIO’s role is vastly to gather and understand the technological needs of each department within the infrastructure and to develop and deliver solutions to those needs. It is the CIO’s job to make key purchasing decisions with regards to hardware and software in an attempt to fulfill internal strategies for the company’s success and to keep his or her fingers on the pulse of technological changes and advancements, evaluating them to determine whether or not they’re worth leveraging for that particular business.
Yet, in the midst of this entire flurry of responsibility, a new need has begun to emerge. CIO’s are becoming so entrenched in the day to day demands of each individual area of the business, that the subsequent responses and solutions have inevitably become disjointed. It is as if each individual department is being handled separately. And while IT Process Automation (ITPA) has been somewhat embraced, it’s widely being implemented on an individual basis, rather than as aggregate solution.
Essentially, it has become nearly impossible for CIOs to effectively do their job while also being able to see the big picture of the organization as a whole. Consider the idea of an assembly line. While each area of need is individually addressed, there must ultimately be a way to connect the dots and bring each of these individual areas together to complete the final product. The CIOs job is to make sure that each single area of the line (i.e. each business department) is functioning to its fullest potential. What’s needed now is someone to bring all of those areas together.
Enter the Chief Automation Officer (CAO). This new role is designed to bridge the gap between business and IT processes with the ultimate goal of leveraging automation to streamline these processes for optimum efficiency. And while some areas of a business may already be using automation, the CAO’s job is to take a step back and examine these areas as part of an overall automation strategy – essentially taking each part of the assembly line and developing a strategy to pull all of these parts together in the most effective and efficient way possible.
Most importantly, the role of a CAO is to find ways to maximize the time and resources of personnel. Rather than using technology to replace people, he or she should be looking for a holistic approach to automation that frees up personnel to better use their skills and to develop them further for the benefit of the business. This strategy will divvy up the work that is necessary for the business to function so that computers handle the repetitive tasks, while allowing the people to handle those critical tasks that cannot be automated, such as thinking, analyzing and developing future strategies for success.
The culture of mid to large sized organizations is shifting and new needs are being revealed. CIOs still play an essential role in managing the technology side of the business, but they can’t do everything. Adding the new position of CAO to the C-Suite will help enterprises to ensure the best possible use of resources and personnel, bring individual departments together to create a more comprehensive approach, and develop a more complete automation strategy that will create efficiency across the entire business.