How to Solve the CIO’s Dilemma: Build Systems to Support End-to-End Customer Experience

How to Solve the CIO’s Dilemma: Build Systems to Support End-to-End Customer Experience

Elizabeth Crouch
Elizabeth Crouch

There’s been a lot of hand-wringing in the last couple of years over the perceived decline of the CIO’s strategic role.

They call it “the CIO’s dilemma” — and depending on who you ask, that can either mean managing competing imperatives for growth and innovation, while driving efficiency and reducing operating costs — or balancing the business’s need to operate in best-of-breed apps, while at the same time dealing with the security risks, data integrity, and integration issues caused by Shadow IT.

Basically, you’re left holding the bag:  Legacy systems aren’t going anywhere, but the business units are now empowered to buy their own point solutions. You have to find a way to make all these systems play nicely together, without sacrificing efficiency, cost, or security.

Look at any major business publication, and you’ll find prescriptive (and often conflicting) advice to stay relevant as the nature of digital business changes, and IT’s role along with it:

  • Position yourself as an innovative disruptor who’s focused on agility
  • Don’t position yourself as an innovative disruptor! Say that you’re generating new growth for the business
  • Align your function with line-of-business objectives, and help them use technology to meet their team goals
  • Don’t align with the business objectives, because otherwise you’ll just be fetching tennis balls and closing tickets for sales, marketing, customer success, et al.
  • Keep quiet and just provide the architecture for business teams to meet their strategic objectives
  • Let business teams buy best-of-breed apps for their workflows — then work your butt off to tackle the integration and risk mitigation challenges brought on by Shadow IT
  • Say “no” to Shadow IT and force business teams to adopt a single-vendor, integrated tech stack, even if it results in less business productivity
  • Focus on efficiency gains
  • Actually, focus on innovation
  • But really, focus on business value drivers that IT ultimately doesn’t get to weigh in on

Business-led IT tackles some of these challenges by aligning IT services to business outcomes. It also calls for a bit of a cultural shift from focusing on internal operations, risk mitigation, and efficiency, to encouraging a more risk-tolerant, collaborative, external-customer-focused mindset. But business-led IT still doesn’t necessarily prevent struggles over system ownership, process architecture, and preferred vendors.

Here’s the underlying problem: tasked with serving internal customers, CIOs are rarely empowered to focus on initiatives that directly drive business value. They’re tasked with maintaining architecture and systems of record for customer data, and helping program business processes — but rarely have a platform for input on how their systems and architecture can be unified for a better, more relevant customer experience.

And here’s the thing: among all the executives at your company, you are uniquely capable of solving these complex problems.

In today’s landscape of sky-high customer expectations and profuse SaaS apps, you are probably in the position to be your organization’s visionary.

Who else is more qualified to look at disparate systems and broken processes, and find the most logical fix? To look at the data around customer experience, and figure out where the snags in the customer journey are? The same layer of abstraction that you bring to the table with ITIL and DevOps can be applied to business unit challenges.

So how does Usermind help tackle this issue?

With Usermind, you can unify systems integration, data migration and governance, orchestration, and analytics in a single system of record.

Instead of operating in a world with two crappy options (best-of-breed apps with Shadow IT risks and regrets, vs. shoehorning business teams into single-vendor, integrated stacks that don’t help them optimize their piece of the funnel), Usermind allows business teams to choose the technology they want — and helps IT join the conversation on which key processes positively impact revenue, growth, and efficiency.

Elizabeth Crouch
Elizabeth Crouch
Senior Marketing Manager at Usermind

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