As technology advances with constant headlines of automation, machine learning, and artificial intelligence (AI) being utilised in organisations to revolutionise work practices, it is impossible to have detailed knowledge of all the different products available.
Here are five successful strategies CIO’s are applying that you can simulate for 2023:
- Ensure business and technology values align – John Heaton, Alex Bank
- Empower reuse across applications in your organisation - Dr Steve Hodgkinson, Vic Police
- Iterate standards to continuously improve your organisation’s products and services – Dr Eban Escott, Codebots
- Use of automation - Dr Kai-fu Lee, Sinovation Ventures
- Discover a “Why?” - Kathleen Mackay, RACT
1. Ensure Business and Technology Values Align
John Heaton, Head of Technology at Alex Bank and co-author of 'Business model experimentation through technology', observes that technology is not just a business model but a mechanism in which a customer engages in transacting value. This value is essentially a service that is part of the whole customer experience.
Source: Figure 1: Relationship between organisation and technology to deliver customer value. Adapted:(Chesbrough 2007; DaSilva & Trkman 2014)
The organisation's strategy, capabilities and business model should be reflected in its technology delivery. Heaton references Aldi as an example, with their low-cost/low-service business model. Aldi provides customers with inexpensive groceries, but is also strategically lacking in technical services for customers by not providing online shopping.
2. Empower Reuse Across Applications in Your Organisation
Dr Steve Hodgkinson, previously CIO for the Victorian Department of Health & Human Services, has long advocated an approach of 'Platform + Agile' delivery that is founded on the idea that organisations should use platforms for new applications. This approach allows reuse across applications and gives you a head start, meaning "you are starting 90% of the way up the stack."
However, this does not mean solely implementing and integrating commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) solutions, as the implementation of such solutions can lead to a lack of internal strength, control and inhibitive technical debt.
More recently, Hodgkinson has suggested that organisations need to build their own Digital-Solution Platform, "an in-house-developed configurable SaaS platform". This approach makes reusable services across several technology layers, as seen below.
Hodgkins suggests using a PaaS such as Azure to get what you can out of the box, develop your application development framework and only use COTS in niché examples. Thus, ensuring that you remain in control, have internal strength and reduce your organisation’s technical debt.
3. Iterate Standards to Continuously Improve Your Organisation’s Products and Services
Dr Eban Escott, a Model Driven Engineering (MDE) advocate, states that an organisation's Way of Working and Technology Standards need consolidation through standardisation in his 2022 whitepaper. This pairs with Hodgkins, Digital Solution Platform method. Due to their consolidation of standards, Vic Health was able to release their Covid test tracker in a matter of weeks and iterate the application over 45 sprints as the situation evolved.
Over time, the quality of the organisation's output should be improved through every Build, Measure and Learn cycle; continuous modernisation stops technology regression. As the workforce cycles, being able to apply and improve standards leads to less legacy and less technical debt, knowledge departure, and hoarding.
4. Use of Automation
Dr Kai-Fu Lee set a 4-stage model for working alongside Artificial Intelligence (AI) on how AI can save our humanity. Lee presents that low compassion and repeatable tasks will be wholly consumed by AI, leaving strategic, creative, repeatable and compassionate roles to work alongside AI.
Tools for technologists and developers to work alongside AI are constantly emerging, whilst CIOs are already leveraging optimisation such as Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to deliver business value.
For example, Kathleen Mackay of Revenue NSW and 2021 CIO of the year used RPA to automate customer record management, simple communications and internal workflows, leading to a saving of 20,000 staff hours.
5. Discover a “Why?”
Ultimately, organisational leaders invest in technology to create impact, not only for their teams but for all stakeholders involved.
Further to Mackay's RPA savings, one of the most impactful programs she could deliver was the 'AI-driven Work and Development Order Program (WDO)'. This program was able to identify vulnerable people and divert them from debt collection to pay off their debts by participation in unpaid community and self-development activities.
A mix of AI identification and human augmentation has led to $40 million of debt resolution over just one financial year. Sharing the impact of technology for good can go a long way to uplifting morale and giving a team a sense of purpose, especially within a large organisation.
The themes that stand out are alignment, reuse and control across the tools, process and people. As leaders in technology, the CIO’s role is to consider and apply this to your business strategy with a long-term perspective. If the themes resonate with you, check out our White Paper that explains how development automation technology applies to software development methodologies.