The role of the CIO has evolved in recent years from a focus on helping the organization to reduce costs to enabling the enterprise to grow revenue and become more agile in responding to changing customer behaviors and market shifts. And while there are a number of components that factor into this metamorphosis, including the threats and opportunities posed by disruptive innovation, one of the greatest sea-changes for CIOs is reflected in their shift from a focus on supporting internal customers (employees) to an expanded focus on meeting the needs and preferences of external customers.I read a Wall St. Journal article the other day that underscores this progression. The article notes that as Hewlett-Packard Co. is splitting into two separate companies, its Global Chief Information Officer, Ramon Baez, is taking on a customer-focused role where he will be speaking at conferences and consulting with other CIOs on IT transformations their organizations are undergoing.
While Baez will remain as HP's CIO, he has also served as senior vice president for customer advocacy at Hewlett-Packard Enterprise Co. since February. Although many CIOs have become more customer focused, Baez is one of the first to have customer advocacy assigned as a specific responsibility.
Customer-centricity has rooted into the CIO agenda in other ways. According to the 2015 Gartner CIO Agenda Report, customer relationship/experience spending has ranked as a top 10 CIO investment priority for each of the past two years.
As company leaders look for new and more effective ways to differentiate the customer experience, the CIO can play a crucial role in helping to identify how the confluence of people, processes, and technology can be brought to bear. And as companies continue to become more customer focused, CIOs like Baez who take on greater responsibility for customer strategy will also become more prominent.