Chief Information Officers are once again finding themselves at the cutting edge of company operations as firms increasingly go digital. When trying to pinpoint the drastic changes companies will have to go through, we should not underestimate this key role.

The CIO “is becoming a post-digital catalyst”

Deloitte recently unveiled its Tech Trends 2013 report, which examines the ever-evolving landscape of “technology put to business use.” L'Atelier has reported in previous years on this annual study, which once again this time selects ten trends that the global consulting firm believes have the potential to impact business over the next two years. Here we focus on some of these trends with the help of three experts from Deloitte: Eric Delgove, Consulting Partner, and Head of the Technology Advisory Sébastien Ropartz, Consulting Partner, Technology Advisory Marc Ayadi, Head of IT Advisory, Entreprise Risk Services.

L'Atelier: Deloitte has listed ten principal trends which are likely to have an impact on companies over the next two years. Among them, the role of the CIO seems set to evolve.

Sébastien Ropartz: Yes, we’re talking about a profound change in the role of the CIO. In the past, s/he was pretty much on the sidelines but now a CIO must grasp the reins of innovation and drive the digital revolution through. The CIO is becoming a post-digital catalyst, who must be connected to everything the company does. S/he must support innovation, and be a driving force among colleagues. If the CIO succeeds in harnessing the potential of digital innovation, s/he can change the nature of the CIO role vis-à-vis the company’s businesses. S/he’ll contribute opportunities for growth and will be able to highlight and promote the advantages of digital solutions to the businesses rather than dwelling on technical constraints. Plan big, start small, fail fast, scale appropriately: these are the watchwords for the CIO’s new role.

The study goes so far as to suggest that Information Systems Management is a business in its own right.

Sébastien Ropartz: One of the problems that a CIO is now having to face is procuring the right resources to cope with the challenges of the digital era. The CIO’s switch to digital is first and foremost about recruiting and retaining staff with key skills. This means of course specific digital technology skills but more general managerial skills as well, which will enable that particular person to drive forward new ways of working and to respond to the needs of the firm’s businesses. IT ought to be positioned as a partner in its own right, as both a driver and a beneficiary of change within the post-digital company.

The report stresses that companies should no longer be thinking ‘mobile first’ but ‘mobile only’. What exactly does that mean?

Eric Delgove: Mobile is everywhere, that’s perfectly clear. Our study shows that 80% of all European firms put mobile in their top ten strategic priorities. Tablets and smartphones are now part of our everyday lives. They allow us to develop augmented reality and offer new possibilities for both information exchange and action. The increasing number of new generation terminals together with cloud computing promises new ways of interacting.

When it comes to security, you’ve described this hyper-mobility as the IT “nightmare”.

Marc Ayadi: A sentence springs to mind that sums up the situation perfectly: “You can never stop a determined person from getting in.” No-one is safe from pirates and hackers, even though some top managers just don’t seem to realise that. Moreover, it takes around three to six months to sort out a cyber-attack, so we shouldn’t be taking cyber-crime lightly! Hackers are today much better organised and use very sophisticated techniques. Some 94% of all cyber-attacks are not made public, but they do account for considerable losses. Firms need to put plans in place to cope with such attacks, they need to face up to the situation and take precautions. Deloitte France decided this year to make an investment in DLab, a computer security platform. Our aim is to offer firms cyber security solutions tailored to their needs.

On a more cheerful note, in-company gamification. How do you explain the takeoff of this approach?

Eric Delgove: Did you know that the average age of video games players is 49? Or that 42% of all gamers are women? Once you realise that you can see why gamification makes sense. A firm needs to grab the attention of its staff, and it can boost their engagement by incorporating gaming into the working environment. Companies should also be using gamification to encourage customers and suppliers to engage with them. This isn’t a new approach, that’s true, but it still remains a top-ten trend in 2013.