Hello and a very warm welcome to our latest edition of smartCIO EMEA – the magazine for Chief Information Officers and other IT leaders across the region.
Hello and a very warm welcome to our latest edition of smartCIO EMEA – the magazine for Chief Information Officers and other IT leaders across the region.
Regular readers will know that our mission is to share the latest technology and leadership insights to help create and educate a community of current CIOs, and those aspiring to move into the role.
For this edition, we have focused mainly around a topic that has attracted a great deal of interest recently – the CIO/CFO relationship. Let’s be clear, this subject has always been a topic of conversation, analysis and opinion, certainly for as long as I have been involved in the technology industry (30 years, thanks for asking!).
As with many discussions, however, the critical nature of the CIO/CFO relationship has come under new levels of scrutiny recently. The pandemic created an imperative for time-critical technology change, which aligned perfectly with the existing demand for digital transformation/acceleration happening in most organisations.
These factors have led to the need for more collaboration and closer relationships between these two vital business functions. From the need to fundamentally re-engineer business models and ways of working across the entire company, through to CFOs recognising they need to transform their own functions and the critical need for technology to facilitate this. The simple fact is that for most organisations, this needs to be a close, collaborative and trusted partnership.
As always, we welcome Martin Veitch, Editorial Director at IDG Connect, to provide us with some interesting thoughts on this. One quote sticks out to me in terms of ‘why’ this relationship is central to business success:
“First, because the CFO is often the second-most powerful person in the organisation and the CIO may be the biggest change agent.”
We then have some conversations with CIOs and CFOs – Doctorlib’s CIO discusses its digital transformation and the role of the CIO/CFO relationship. We also sit down with the PGA European Tour’s CIO, CFO and CHRO to chat about the importance of this triumvirate in driving digital transformation. Eagle-eyed (no golf pun intended) readers will note that we interviewed the CIO in issue #1, so this is an interesting update to that conversation.
And finally, we spoke with Workday Co-President and CFO, Robynne Sisco, to hear her views on the dynamics of this important relationship with the CIO.
There are other great articles inside!
So please, have a read.
Our aim for smartCIO EMEA is that it provides you with insight, opinion and discussion around the key leadership, business and technology topics that are relevant to you and your role in modern business.
We look forward to you joining the conversation. Please give us feedback, suggest new ideas, offer your own expertise and insight. We can’t wait to hear from you.
*The best of friends:
How CIOs and CFOs
are marching together*
Intertwined challenges and opportunities mean finance and IT need to be synced more than ever.
By Martin Veitch, Editorial Director, IDG Connect
When I asked about CIOs and CFOs in preparation for this article, one pithy remark stood out. A retired CEO said: “They’re similar really. Ask them a question and the answer is ‘no’…”
That’s unfair of course but it points to the persistent cliché of both posts being conservative in nature. But then, when you’re trusted with handling the finances and the digital underpinning of an organisation, conservatism isn’t such a bad trait. But what became clear was that perceptions are changing and a generation of progressive finance and IT leaders is emerging. They are making a big difference to their organisations by unleashing creative thinking and working closely together.
Plainly, a good CIO should build relationships across the organisation and beyond. The concept of CIOs being the plumbers of the enterprise is, thankfully, going away and there’s an appreciation that IT can (almost uniquely) provide competitive differentiation that companies crave. CFOs meanwhile are tapping into technology to create the insights and vision that businesses need more than ever in these turbulent times.
Modern CIOs find themselves in an interesting position where their counsel is in demand because tech touches everything now. It’s not over-egging it to say that almost any bold business move today will be fuelled by digitisation.
For example, CIOs and CMOs are working as a team as ‘marktech’ stacks evolve and as digital activity, including account-based marketing, becomes an even bigger part of the marketing remit. In HR, CHROs and CIOs are combining to onboard modern cloud HCM packages that provide a 360-degree view of performance, goals and rewards for employers and employees, and using AI and machine learning to accelerate the hiring process. And elsewhere, the CIO is working with procurement and logistics leaders to establish the possibilities of the Internet of Things in tracking vehicles and deliveries.
CFO: CIOs are like CFOs in the sense that they’re analytical and numbers-based: if you can’t count it, it doesn’t count. The best CIOs tell you early in the process when things are going awry because they’re always keeping tabs on risks and contingencies.
CIO: I get on well with CFOs. If you want to do something and you can build a watertight ROI case, then you will likely get it. Don’t and you won’t…
Today, CIOs and CFOs need to work hand-in-hand for many reasons. First, because the CFO is often the second-most powerful person in the organisation and the CIO may be the biggest change agent.
Second, because, as with the roles listed earlier, technologies such as cryptocurrency and blockchain are game-changers for how CFOs operate.
Digital transformation is critical to both parties, even if they see it via different lenses. Transformation can support entry into new markets (adjacent opportunities or regional), operating models (self-manufacture or subcontract) and ways to sell (such as outright purchase to subscription or indirect channel versus direct). These plainly impact the CFO because income, outgoings and the way revenue is recognised are changed, but it’s the CIO who’s central to enabling all these.
And even on IT procurement, the sides need to work in tandem. As more software moves to a cloud subscription model, the way organisations pay for what were big-ticket items has changed enormously. We know that recurring payments make it easier for companies to buy top-end software without spikes in licence fees, annual maintenance charges or the need for ancillary hardware. The model also de-risks the software acquisition process because it’s relatively easy to swap out providers in the cloud and to integrate with other IT systems using open APIs. This is plain as day to CIOs but they need to share that knowledge with others and the CFO should be the leading recipient of this good news.
CFO: CIOs today are great but the generation of 20 years ago was very different. They spoke a foreign language and nobody knew what they were talking about.
CIO: You do get some CFOs who just say ‘no’ as a default and it can be like banging your head against a brick wall. You sometimes think ‘you might want to speculate to accumulate here, it can’t be all about saving money’.
There’s another angle here too. CFOs today have a whole new toybox of tools to play with that enhance visibility, warning signs, red flags, opportunities and their ability to forecast. Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A) suites are beginning to automate decision-making processes and soon we can expect AI and machine learning to take much of the financial drudge work off the table, leaving CFOs free to influence and lead. CIOs are best placed to help them choose these tools because they know the vagaries of integration, vendor management and so on. In some ways, the choice of such tools and the ways in which they are deployed will be as important as deployment and management of ERP in the 1990s. Those that use the tech best will reap competitive differentiation; the worst will endanger the future of their businesses.
And as with so much in life, the pandemic has had a transformative effect on… transformation. The virtualising of work had a thin silver lining in that it showed how many of us can be effective even if we are separated physically. McKinsey has found that companies set up remote working in 11 days versus pre-pandemic expectations that such projects would need a year. That acceleration has pushed us all to think differently, and with everyone just a Zoom away there’s no reason for us to avoid a chat and to rethink fundamental expectations.
Connecting the dots between the CIO and CFO will differ depending on personalities involved, but there are some established ways to work together. Some companies favour a version of the ‘two in a box’ management model where one executive shadows the other for a spell to better understand their everyday challenges. Others will be content to book meetings or even work on a ‘drop by’ basis. Whichever way you choose, make sure you’re not being a stranger to your peers.
CIO: I worked for one CFO who was curt. I did my utmost to get into her good books. I thought I was getting through, but when she was asked to contribute to my performance review, I heard that I was scored with record-lowering grades... The last straw was when I came into work and was told without warning that IT was being outsourced.
CFO: I was asked to the CIO’s holiday lunch with his team. When I got there, they were all dressed up as Star Trek characters. Nobody had told me but they thought I should have known by the wording of the invite which I didn’t understand having never watched the programme. So, it was me and the cast of… whatever the spaceship is called.
By Subarna Ganguly, EMEA Staff Writer
The pandemic has accelerated the digitalisation of healthcare systems around the world. The telehealth space in particular, which provided a much-needed bridge to healthcare during the crisis, has seen significant growth, investment and transformation.
According to Rock Health’s ‘H1 2021 Digital Health Funding’ report, investment in the digital health space has doubled since 2019, skyrocketing to $14.7 billion in 2021. This uptick in investment, reinforced by regulatory changes and the evolution of customer preference, signals that the demand for virtual healthcare will continue.
Doctolib, a fast-growing e-healthcare provider based in France, has been a lifeline for essential services in unprecedented times. I spoke to Sebastien Louyot, CIO at the company, about Doctolib’s journey, the dynamic relationship between CIOs and CFOs today and the future of online healthcare services.
Can you start by sharing with us a little about Doctolib and your background?
Doctolib is a leader of online healthcare services in Europe. We have two main missions. First, we want to improve the daily life of healthcare professionals. We help them with digital solutions like booking management, teleconsultation and medical practice management. Healthcare professionals can save time, have more control at work and improve their revenues. Our second mission is to help patients have a better understanding and access to medical services. Currently, we serve more than 300,000 healthcare personnel users in three countries, France, Germany and Italy. And, we also serve 60 million patients in these countries.
On a more personal level, I’ve been in the IT industry for more than 20 years and have always been interested in tech innovations. I started my career in the telecom industry, building the first internet providers in France. I’ve also been an entrepreneur, creating an IT consulting and services company for businesses.
You have experienced hyper growth in recent years in France and Germany. Can you tell us what the key drivers behind Doctolib’s success are?
First, we’ve been customer-obsessed since day one. I know it’s kind of a buzzword today to be ‘customer obsessed’ or ‘customer focused’. But I really mean it. Our founding team spent hundreds of hours sitting next to doctors in their practice to understand how they work and how we can help them with better software. We have built something we call the Doctolib community, with healthcare professionals, and they’re regularly involved in brainstorming with us about the new products and the new features we can launch.
Second, I think we have a strong culture around operational performance. We believe that by continuously iterating on your process, by removing unnecessary friction, you can improve the way you work over time. And you can deliver a better service to your customers. This is key for us: not only delivering great software, but delivering great service.
Finally, with our agility and our customer focus, we’ve been able to adapt to the fast-changing world of COVID-19. And believe me, when the French government asks you to roll out vaccination software for more than 1,000 centres in less than a week, you definitely need to be agile.
You faced some unique challenges during the COVID-19 crisis and have recently started using Workday Innovation Services to mitigate some of those. Can you tell us about that journey and how it has impacted your business?
The main challenge we faced was to switch from a verbal culture to a written culture. Before the pandemic, we were mostly running our meetings with people in the same room. When everyone had to work remotely, we relied a lot on chat rooms and chatbots to keep the ball rolling on our various projects and to be able to deliver our products and our services to our customers. During the first lockdown, we decided to roll out Slack for the whole company which enabled us to have interactions with our regular tools via the same interface. And thanks to Workday Innovation Services, we were able to evaluate new ways to engage with HR tools. We tested Workday Assistant, the chatbot inside the Workday interface, which helped a lot of our managers tackle questions on how to manage their team. They were able to, for example, validate time-off requests directly from Slack which was a game changer in terms of process improvement.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, many healthcare providers were forced to move online, almost overnight, but Doctolib had a robust infrastructure around online medical consultations in place years before. How do you plan to scale your digital presence, expand your growth and continue innovating?
If I look back in the mirror, over the course of the last three years, we moved from being a one-product, one-country company, with mostly a booking management system in France, to a multi-product, multi-country company. We’ve expanded from France to Germany, and now to Italy. We also recently acquired the number two player in the Italian market and launched new products like teleconsultation, medical practice management, and vaccination campaigns. This is a whole new way of addressing the market for Doctolib.
Our goal now is to continue expanding with new countries and new products, and to try to reach a new category of healthcare professionals. Because you don’t serve a doctor like you serve a dentist or a nurse.
They all have some really specific ways of providing healthcare. So we really need to fine-tune our software and our services to suit every kind of specialist provider. With the pandemic, a lot of governments have accelerated their healthcare digitisation agenda and this is definitely something we are looking at in terms of international expansion.
As a healthcare provider you deal with sensitive patient information, essentially storing them on Doctolib’s systems. How do you ensure data protection of your platform and fortify yourself against possible threats?
Security is our key topic. With the recent acceleration and visibility of Doctolib, it’s made us more exposed to attacks. We’ve invested massively in tools, in processes and in our people. We’re using only hosting providers which are certified for health data and Doctolib is ISO 27001 certified. We’re also using something called end-to-end encryption. It means that when you share sensitive information with your doctors with Doctolib, all the communication is encrypted which is an additional layer in terms of security. In terms of people, we have multiplied our security team by four over the last 18 months, and we’re still hiring more security experts. We also regularly perform external audits, pentests and bug bounty campaigns to find any potential breaches we may have. We’re aware that being 100% secure may not be feasible, but it’s our job to be as close as possible to that – and to really invest massively in security for our users, our patients, for doctors, and for Doctolib’s internal users too.
How has your role evolved and what in your view should be the top priorities for a CIO today?
This is something that sometimes keeps me awake at night and is definitely proving to be a great challenge. As a CIO, I need to make sure that the information system scales according to the fast growth of the company, that it keeps the company data secure, and that it can deliver the best value to our business. You need to transform from corporate IT to what I call IT-as-a-service.
This essentially means that the IT department must provide a catalogue of products and services that business users can consume by themselves. You need to remove frictions and blockers as much as possible to allow projects to be delivered at the speed of business change.
And to be able to do that, I see we have two main challenges today. The first is that you must ensure, as a CIO, that your technical foundations are strong. That’s why we invested a lot in changing our culture to a more dev-ops culture and in having a robust infrastructure. The second challenge is hiring. Hiring and training the key talent is the most challenging topic today. You need to onboard and keep the right people with the right skills to transform your information systems. And I’m not only speaking about technological skills. Having the right collaborative and agile culture is critical if you want to accelerate today. Talent hiring and talent retention is a key challenge for every CIO today.
Do you think the CIO-CFO relationship has changed significantly today? Historically, the roles have been known to butt heads over cost control and budgeting. Do you find the dynamic has changed into more of a partnership?
Yes, I think so. IT is no more viewed as a support function but as a strategic asset to transform your business. The CIO and CFO must now co-develop an investment roadmap.
With the rise of the cloud, the IT budget has radically moved from capex to mostly being driven by opex. Consequently, this is shortening the touchpoint frequency between IT and finance. You’re not speaking about the budget once or twice a year anymore. As we need to adapt our strategy to the speed of business, we now need to speak on a monthly basis.
What in your view are the top three areas or strategies that CIOs and CFOs should collaborate closely on?
IT is a key partner to help the finance team digitalise their business processes. Digital signature, eprocurement, suppliers and contracts management, travel and expenses management are just some examples of how both IT and finance can improve the employee experience – and make the whole company more agile.
Every company is using more and more SaaS applications and this can impact your budget very quickly. If you rely heavily on SaaS, one of your priorities should be to have a SaaS management tool and to define the right guidelines and rules to keep SaaS usage in control. Some questions to be considered are, should all users have access to this application? Do you have several applications for the same business process?
Being aligned about the investment roadmap through financial planning and analysis is vital. I’m not only speaking about planning and reviewing the budget, but also sharing the vision and roadmap to better understand what impact every investment will bring to the company.
*Par for the course:
How C-Suite collaboration shaped
the PGA European
Tour’s digital drive*
By Steve Dunne, EMEA Staff Writer
During the pandemic, businesses from all sectors were forced to accelerate digital programmes and find new ways of working. For leaders at the PGA European Tour, bringing back golf safely while supporting a complex business model was a significant challenge.
In this article, the PGA European Tour’s Claire Giacometto, Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Michael Cole, Chief Technology Officer (CTO), and Fran Merrylees, Chief People Officer (CPO) discuss finance and HR transformation and the importance of C-suite collaboration.
Overcoming complexity and driving innovation key to PGA European Tour
Complexity in modern business is not unusual, so it’s hardly surprising that, as a professional sport, golf has its own unique set of management challenges. Add to the mix a global pandemic, and it’s clear that disruption is – pun fully intended – par for the course. For the PGA European Tour’s C-suite, the last 18 months have been both an opportunity to push through crucial digital initiatives and also rethink how technology should help the business collectively overcome complexity.
From a finance perspective, CFO Claire Giacometto understands the importance of reducing complexity to ensure players and staff can be paid on time, and that finance processes are as frictionless as possible.
“We’re small but we’re quite a complex organisation, and we operate in many different countries’ jurisdictions, so it’s absolutely critical that when we’re paying the players, or calculating taxes, we have a really reliable system that makes sure we’re doing everything as it should be done,” she said.
“It’s crucial that we’re never running late with payments, as once things start to run behind, then you’re onto the next tournament and people are scrambling. We want to be professional, we want the players to be paid on time, and we want it to feel as effortless from their perspective as possible. That means being able to collaborate and understand where other business leaders are coming from.”
As CTO, Michael Cole is well placed to understand the organisation’s business and IT complexity. He believes technology plays a key role, not only in making the business more efficient, but also in maintaining the PGA European Tour’s brand challenger and innovator status.
“We’re not two teams on one field of play, playing for 90 minutes. We’re 156 players, playing 18 fields of play over four days, and we sometimes even change our format, which means we are a complex organisation. Technology has a key role to play in how we can create efficiency and simplicity across the organisation,” he said.
“We like to look at innovation and creativity to bring new and exciting content to our fans. But, also we know we’ve got a real challenge in terms of using technology to create simplicity out of what is a massively complex organisation.”
COVID-19 and the reimagination of business as usual
In 2019, the European Tour transformed from a data centre-focused organisation to one that was cloud-based, greatly increasing the level of agility across its operations. As COVID-19 placed most sports, including golf, on hold, the importance of organisational agility became immediately apparent.
Cole explained, “When the pandemic kicked in, because we were set up to work remotely with that level of agility, staff were overnight simply able to work from home. In fact, home just became an extension of their office.”
Managing people, working remotely and ensuring they had both the tools to do their jobs and the support to thrive presented its own challenges for the organisation’s HR function. But how did C-suite leaders collaborate to overcome such challenges?
“Having a cloud-based system enabled us to have HR information and data anytime and anywhere, and that’s been incredibly important,” said CPO Fran Merrylees. “We had a very difficult furlough process, as many organisations did. But being able to have all that information at our fingertips, even when working remotely, has been really important. Being able to have open, transparent conversations with other parts of the business, such as finance and IT was key.”
Often, adversity is the biggest driver of innovation and the greatest test of capability. The pandemic drove many organisations forward, as they simply had to find ways of getting the job done. For Giacometto and her team, the cloud was a central component of delivering finance agility and the cornerstone of a tighter relationship with other leaders.
“We were constantly having to rework things, from forecasts, cash management and tax requirements. Things changed on a constant basis. The fact that we were able to do all of that from home was something I never believed would be possible. But everything was seamless, and we didn’t drop a ball in managing our cash through what was a really difficult period. The leadership team didn’t need to be in the same building to make important decisions, and that helps guide everyone when things are changing on a constant basis.”
Managing people, working remotely and ensuring they had both the tools to do their jobs and the support to thrive presented its own challenges for the organisation’s HR function.
What digital means: The power to collaboratively plan, execute and analyse
As the world begins to move again, and professional sport takes on a more normal appearance, what does digital mean to businesses like the PGA European Tour in times of non-crisis?
On the finance side, Giacometto points to having a single system in which the business can plan, execute and analyse, even as things continue to change in real time.
“Knowing that we have really good audit trails of our data, we can analyse it, and know it’s reliable, that was a big change for us. Having a system where, at a flick of a switch, anybody could go in and understand what was going on was so important,” she said. “We have tournaments week in, week out, so we’re paying players every week. We’re obviously trying to manage our cash resources, so we’re doing a lot of cash forecasting, and also working with the business to make sound commercial decisions.”
Bringing the power of finance and HR together in a single system to enable better collaboration is an important consideration for people leader Merylees.
“Having a modernised HR function means we can stand back and be a lot more strategic, and engage with business partners such as finance in a very different way. We’re able to plan for the future, and use real-time reporting to collaborate with stakeholders on key things such as finance and workforce planning. Because managers and staff are empowered through data, it actually means they can be more strategic and sophisticated in their roles.”
Taking a broader perspective on the role of the cloud and digital more broadly, CTO Cole points to the direct correlation between having the right technology and how the organisation generates revenue.
“For us, two things are critical: empowerment of employees and accessibility to data. That enables how we collaborate and how we drive the business forward. We are a members-based organisation. We need a mechanism that creates playing opportunities for over 1,000 golfers. Every pound that we generate goes into the operations, and more importantly, is delivered as a prize fund for the players. We are responsible for generating that income, and Workday is responsible for how that income circulates around the business. From that perspective, Workday is a catalyst for us.”
*How forward-looking CIOs are driving
By Christina Johnson, EMEA Staff Writer
How has the digital acceleration, spurred on by the pandemic, influenced the thinking of CIOs worldwide? And how can CIOs and CFOs create a more effective partnership? We conducted a global study of over 600 executives worldwide with Deloitte to find the answers to these questions. Here’s a summary of our findings.
As CIOs have helped lead their organisations through the disruption caused by COVID-19, investing in the technologies that enable faster reflexes and decisive action have become a top priority. And connecting different departments with an overarching technology strategy is essential if you want to coordinate a unified response to market shifts, and focusing on finance is particularly important to CIOs.
Our latest joint research report with Deloitte, ‘A More Effective CIO-CFO Partnership’, found that most CIOs (70%) say the pandemic has accelerated their finance transformation strategies by at least a year.
The research, which is based on a survey of 603 executives worldwide, also found forward-looking tech leaders, who we refer to as ‘Progressive CIOs’, are more likely to see the strategic importance of technology in the current environment.
They have a different mindset to their peers, focusing on transformative business issues, agile execution and the data capabilities that allow organisations to pick up the pace. And firms with Progressive CIOs outperform other organisations in several areas, including employee satisfaction, cybersecurity, customer turnover and revenue.
Our research found a unique set of beliefs and behaviours set Progressive CIOs apart from their peers (see sidebar to the right). And there are three priorities that help put these forward-looking leaders ahead of the rest.
What is a Progressive CIO?
We identified a subset of survey respondents who met the following criteria:
Strongly agree that ‘my role/department is more strategic to the business than it was last year’.
Strongly agree that ‘agile, incremental technology transformation will be critical to the success of my firm’s post-COVID-19 recovery phase’.
Say that their firms have the data capabilities to perform all of the following tasks either competently or well:
– Deliver short-term forecasts
– Model changes in demand
– Provide reliable and accurate data to stakeholders
– Implement new technology strategies
– Secure sensitive and mission-critical data
– Enable self-service access to business users
– Identify risk
1. Build partnerships to fuel faster change
CIOs are in a unique position to help an organisation meet its strategic goals. But to innovate effectively, technology leaders need to build close partnerships with other leaders across the business.
According to our survey, 49% of all CIOs believe they need to spend less time on purely IT matters and more time making IT a strategic enabler across the business. And 60% agree that ‘our business leaders are too focused on short-term costs of system modernisation to see the long-term value of digital transformation’.
Progressive CIOs say aligning their priorities with those of CFOs and the C-suite is a priority. About 60% describe themselves as collaborative, compared to 44% of all respondents. They work to align their priorities with the broader business strategy and keep all key stakeholders informed, motivated and onboard with the transformation.
“I think being a CIO is really about business alignment,” says Jerzy Janeczko, Senior Vice President and CIO of biopharmaceutical group Ipsen. “It’s about collaboration with key stakeholders and business partners. By doing this, we mitigate a lot of risks: we know what we’re investing in, what our roadmap is, and where we need to invest as a priority.”
When it comes to enterprise finance transformation, misalignment between IT and the finance function can have serious financial implications. Progressive CIOs recognise this. 83% agree that ‘we will miss our growth targets unless the IT and finance functions work more closely’, compared with only 67% of the total sample.
Matt Schwenderman, Deloitte Global Workday Financial Management leader, says: “Today’s most successful IT leaders are working in close alignment with the finance function to drive toward common goals, processes and priorities. While we’re seeing a continued prioritisation of digital technologies as a result of the pandemic, our research highlights that Progressive CIOs recognise that the digital disruption triggering finance transformation will focus leadership on business insights and data analytics.”
2. Take an agile and incremental approach to transformation
In a rapidly changing marketplace, organisations have to continually beat the competition to market – and keep up with shifting expectations to remain relevant. Overall, 45% of CIOs say they need to innovate more quickly, and 43% are under pressure to create greater enterprise agility.
In this environment, digital acceleration is key to success – as long as innovation and change drive strategic business results. One in three Progressive CIOs say ‘time to deliver a defined business goal’ is the most important metric by which they measure the success of new technologies, compared to about one in five of the total population.
To help their organisations move faster – and adapt as plans change – Progressive CIOs are focused on agile, incremental innovation. This approach helps IT teams stay in line with more risk-averse departments, such as finance. It also balances the need to keep the business running smoothly with the demands of modernising core systems.
When it comes to finance transformation in particular, Progressive CIOs believe in the power of the cloud. More than half (54%) are deploying an end-to-end cloud strategy to modernise their enterprise management environment, compared to just 37% of all CIOs. But while Progressive CIOs believe in the value of a unified move to the cloud, they also know they need to take an iterative approach to get there.
Getting to the desired end state requires stakeholders across the organisation to develop a more innovative mindset – and Progressive CIOs want to help other departments wrap their heads around what new technologies can do. Nearly 9 in 10 (88%) say they would like to spend more time educating the organisation, compared to just 69% of the wider sample. A similar portion of Progressive CIOs (90%) also prioritise working with other departments on digital innovation projects, compared to 70% of all respondents.
3. Unlock the decision-making power of data
Predicting the future is no simple task, but the right data capabilities can help organisations better plan for an uncertain future. From how customer demands might evolve to how revenue streams could shift over time, analysing data from across the organisation can help leaders make smarter strategic choices – and plan for multiple possible outcomes.
Developing these capabilities starts with making the right technology investments. And this need is accelerating transformations across sectors. According to our survey, 41% of CIOs say the need to improve decision making by enabling secure, timely access to reliable data is the biggest driver of technology modernisation within their organisations.
For their part, Progressive CIOs prioritise data aggregation and data management. ‘Aggregating enterprise finance data into a single source of truth’ is the top priority for 92%, compared to 72% of the wider sample. Gerard Florian, CIO of ANZ Bank, sets out the value of this approach: “Different parts of the business had different systems, so they were talking at cross-purposes, generating different spreadsheets, and arguing about which data was right. We’re now able to work with a common fact base and collectively see what the cost drivers really are.”
Progressive CIOs also focus on data integrity, as a data-driven culture must be built on trust. An end-to-end cloud strategy that provides unified access to the organisation can provide a single source of truth that allows leaders to access accurate, real-time data at a moment’s notice. And as the speed of the market continues to accelerate, organisations that can make faster, more informed decisions will be better positioned to gain a competitive edge.
Find out more
One of the most encouraging takeaways from this research is that Progressive CIOs don’t rely on having the most advanced technology or the biggest budget. Instead, their approach can be adopted by any tech leader (or, for that matter, any leader in any function) because it is built on a mindset and a considered set of priorities. You can read the full report now: 'A More Effective CIO-CFO Partnership'.
Workday Co-President and CFO details her collaboration with CIO*
By Steve Dunne, EMEA Staff Writer
I spoke to Workday Co-President and CFO, Robynne Sisco*, who shared her insights on why the finance and IT partnership is more crucial than ever, and how to make collaboration work.
*This article was written and published before 1st February 2022 when Robynne Sisco transitioned from her dual role to focus solely on her position as Co-President, Workday.
As CFO, you’ve seen your finance team shift to a remote model during the pandemic. How important has your relationship with IT been during that process, and what have been the main technology and cultural challenges?
Not only important, but critical. It would be impossible to overstate how important the open and transparent relationship I have with our CIO, Sheri Rhodes, has been during this global crisis.
During the pandemic, many companies have discovered that the legacy tools and processes they had were not going to work in this new world. Fortunately, we didn’t have that challenge. If I think about it from a technology perspective, the pandemic has certainly led to increased finance automation, as companies dialled back hiring but still needed finance to support the business. Workday’s growth didn’t suddenly stop, and that meant we had to drive greater efficiencies and look for more opportunities to automate finance processes.
If you look at it culturally, I think one of the challenges has been adjusting to working from home and having to be more deliberate about our interactions. Normally, in the office, you can just grab someone from IT or from the Workday on Workday (WoW) team and have on-the-fly discussions. Now everything has to be more planned out and deliberate, so to some extent you lose those collaborative hallway conversations. That said, Zoom and other digital tools play a huge role in keeping us connected with our IT colleagues.
You have spoken about the importance of the CFO leading on culture and not just numbers. How should CFOs think about their relationship with the CIO and the impact they can have together on company culture?
I think the CFO/CIO relationship is an increasingly important partnership because the decisions we make impact our number one core value – our people – and that changes the way we make those decisions. For example, if we’re looking for a collaboration tool that all employees are going to use, cost is not our number one priority. It becomes a question of which tool has the best user experience to help people be the most efficient they can be. That’s how you impact culture if your employees are your number one core value.
Sheri and I meet regularly to align on the key challenges and the role of technology across the organisation. This partnership is key because we make a lot of decisions that impact the entire organisation, not just the finance and IT functions. We need to keep in mind our priorities and align those with our values to make sure we’re making the right decisions for the business.
In terms of understanding employee sentiment, how important has the ability to survey the employee base become since the pandemic?
Hugely important is the simple answer. I pay a lot of attention to these surveys because it gives the employees a voice. I used to run into people in the hallway or stop by their desks, which would give me a sense for how they were feeling. But we lost most of that because of the pandemic and you can only get so much sentiment from a video call, so tools like Workday Peakon Employee Voice are vital in providing us with these insights. We’re learning so much about how people are feeling and what the issues are that I need to proactively address before they turn into a significant issue that might impact attrition. I know exactly what the top concerns are for my entire organisation. When you get really big, and then suddenly you’re remote, that’s a hard thing to do.
I think we’ve evolved to the point where both CIOs and CFOs agree that digital change is no longer an open question, but an imperative. How do you navigate that line between investing in innovation versus balancing the books, particularly given the challenges of the pandemic?
I think for organisations that are taking on huge levels of transformation, it’s about aligning IT investment with strategic growth plans. It’s not about picking one system in isolation, but understanding how that tool plays into the bigger picture of what the business is trying to achieve.
When I think of some of the great businesses that we have worked with to help transform their finance and HR functions, the ones who have the most success are those who choose technology because it aligns with their overall vision and the values they are trying to deliver on. As I said earlier, in some instances, cost is not the number one priority; it’s more about finding technology that supports a broader vision and culture.
Agility is a term that continues to dominate the business agenda. How can finance and IT leaders remain aligned on their goals, on innovation and the future, when things evolve at such an incredible pace?
This is probably one of the greatest areas of collaboration and where leading companies who have already embraced digital change have a substantial head start over their peers. CIOs can help CFOs align technology investments with corporate strategies, values and objectives. Similarly, CFOs can help CIOs build out the business case and ROI justification for these investments. I don’t believe that any company can innovate and exercise prudent financial discipline without this relationship working effectively. How that works in practice I think requires a good working relationship that’s based on trust, transparency and a shared consensus between the CFO and CIO on values and objectives. There’s no point being agile if you’re both moving in different directions.
We’ve talked a lot in the past about CIO/CFO collaboration, but can you give us some examples of how that has worked in practice?
In the case of the onset of COVID-19, when things were changing rapidly, we had to embrace our global crisis management processes, which required stakeholders from across the entire organisation. Fortunately we had a playbook and a framework to operate against, which helped our in-house experts and our executives come together and focus on the right things, such as closing our quarter virtually and keeping employees informed about COVID-19.
While I had previously worked closely with our CIO, this situation brought us closer. Together, we had to make tough prioritisation decisions, and those conversations are ongoing, always centring us on our biggest priorities. For example, we gave employees a stipend for unforeseen costs during the pandemic. This required real high-speed collaboration across finance, HR and IT because time really was of the essence.
From a C-suite perspective, collaboration is about leaning in with our business counterparts to make sure you’re all focused on the right problems, processes and go-forward strategies. We support these goals by embracing an agile, lean startup culture that moves swiftly. The one indisputable way to truly know your customers is to be your own customer. Internally we use our own products to run our business, which takes a very strong partnership between finance and IT. It also allows us to share best practices and ideas with our customers around the globe.
What advice would you give to technology and finance leaders on building a healthy, collaborative relationship?
I think this goes back to aligning on values and each side being willing to be flexible as long as it ladders up to those bigger priorities. For example, if we both agree that the system they want is the right solution but needs more budget, I would want finance to support that. I shouldn’t stand firm or be the roadblock. You have to be flexible on budget, and be willing to make difficult trade-offs. At the same time, IT needs to be flexible too. Can they adjust their time frame or the resources they have allocated to get things done faster? Like the stipend example I gave earlier, collaboration is a two-way street, where everyone has to jump in and get the job done.
What we’re doing
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By Sheri Rhodes, CIO, Workday
One of the things I enjoy most about my role is the opportunity to connect with and learn from fellow IT and business leaders. This has been especially valuable since the pandemic forced businesses to adapt to rapid and unexpected change at an even greater pace.
Recently, I had the opportunity to meet with Miriam McLemore, an AWS Enterprise Strategist, as a guest on AWS’ Conversation with Leaders series, to discuss tactics we’ve employed at Workday to enable our own response to an increasingly unpredictable world.
Here are some of the key takeaways from what I shared during our conversation.
Collaborating to deliver results
Collaboration happens at all levels of an organisation. For my team, at a stakeholder level, it starts with the business value that IT can bring to the table. That means focusing on the business process and then introducing the technology to add value where we need to solve the biggest problems first.
Our focus, from an overall stakeholder standpoint, is to rally around objectives and key results (OKRs), which are shared goals that provide solid cross-functional alignment across teams. OKRs also help us ensure that we have the same goals and are evaluating the same metrics, keeping them in pace with each other in terms of delivery and prioritisation.
It's also important that everyone on the team has the right to flexibility within the architecture as well as the talent within our teams. In other words, team members are empowered to use technical and human resources in innovative ways.
In the case of the onset of COVID-19, when things were changing rapidly, we had to embrace our global crisis management processes, which required stakeholders from across the entire organisation. Fortunately we had a playbook and a framework to operate against, which helped our in-house experts and executives come together and focus on the right things, such as closing our quarter virtually and keeping employees informed about COVID-19. It also drove increased collaboration in specific areas such as financial investments.
While I had previously worked closely with our President and CFO Robynne Sisco, this situation brought us closer. Together, we had to make tough prioritisation decisions, and those conversations are ongoing, always centring us on our biggest priorities.
Shifting from project-based work to a product-based mindset
An IT operating model is how we do our work. A well-defined and articulated operating model is the bridge between strategy and day-to-day operations. This guides the team, provides the context, and enables the behaviours needed to achieve our strategy and vision. For us, we organise around products instead of projects so we can be more agile. A product is a capability or portion of a capability, brought to life through technology, business process and customer experience. By working this way, we work more like a product engineering organisation with product owners, continuous planning and end-to-end lifecycle management of a product – but this wasn’t always the case.
During my first year at Workday, we operated predominantly in a waterfall mode. I aspired to shift to a more agile mindset, which meant changing the operating model, and this wasn’t just about an IT change. It was a chance to have the business join this change management plan and buy into the process because they are product owners who help define what we’re solving for via technology. Making sure we had the right model in place to be successful was really important.
The true value of our more agile operating model is that now we can keep pace with ongoing changes. We’re not always starting and stopping. We have teams filled with experts around a product domain, so we don’t have to onboard or offboard contractors, and that helps us keep year-round continuity. This has sped up our response times, enabled us to keep subject matter expertise of the product domains and other areas in-house, and helped us be more responsive to the business. This flexibility also enables us to adjust priorities more easily as changes come about.
Prioritising a customer zero programme
The one indisputable way to truly know your customer is to be your customer. Internally we call this team WoW, which stands for Workday on Workday. Part of our business technology team, they lead the internal deployment of our products across the application suite, ensuring we ourselves use the products we offer to our customers. And although we’ve been our own customer since Workday had only 200 employees, we’ve scaled the tools and applications with us as we’ve grown to over 13,000 employees. Similar to our customers, we haven’t had to redeploy our solutions because upgrades are continually delivered as part of our ongoing service.
One of the biggest benefits from the WoW programme is that we use employee feedback to improve the overall customer experience. It helps with customer stickiness in terms of product innovation and overarching market positioning for the products. We also actively participate in design partner groups and pre-general availability meetings, which give us the opportunity to influence the product direction, strategy and roadmap.
As we start to emerge from the pandemic, we have exciting opportunities from both a leadership and technology perspective. As leaders, it’s important to keep empathy and fun at the forefront. The last year has made us better leaders who are more sensitive to this, and building a strong culture with a diversity of talent and ideas is hugely important. We’ve also become much better communicators – with global teams working remotely, being consistent with multiple channels is very important.
From a technology perspective, utilising new product offerings and go-to-market strategies that will enable scalability and support the return to the workplace and new hybrid environment will be important for CIOs. This means taking the time to ask what the next normal looks like and consider what pressures this might bring for IT leaders.
Understanding the broader landscape will then help IT come to the table with more responsive technologies for these environments.
Finally, making sure your technology is ready to scale and adapt as the world around us keeps changing – having an agile architecture, making sure security is built in and making sure our technology is extensible – is going to be the major pivot point for CIOs. I think this last year proved that beyond a doubt.