The CIO: An architect— and artisan — of digital transformation

CIO Digital Transformation

The role of the Chief Information Officer (CIO) in business has never been more important. The sweeping digital transformation in the corporate world has been further accelerated since the COVID-19 pandemic and IT security is ever more paramount since the war in Ukraine too.

CIOs are no longer confined to the roles of technical experts and enforcers of IT practices, but they have become craft-persons for the transformation affecting every business unit in a company. Accelerated automation of the Procure-to-Pay (P2P) and Order-to-Cash (O2C) processes are at the heart of these transformative challenges. Paperless automated solutions, providing full visibility whether at home or in the office, have improved overall company performance by reducing processing times, improving cost control and achieving full traceability.
For many companies who had to adapt extremely quickly to teams working remotely, those who had started their digital transformation journey were more resilient and able to adjust their working practices more efficiently. Those visionary CIOs had the necessary equipment to weather the storm.
In addition, there continues to be many other demands placed on CIOs: security, change management and the continuous optimisation of the information system.

Lessons learnt

Beyond the drama caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, an excellent learning experience emerges: 76% of CIOs believe that remote working due to lockdowns boosted the use of collaborative apps, such as company social networks, project and meeting management tools, and team messaging platforms¹.
A CIO is in charge of equipping teams with efficient automation tools and collaborative solutions such as SaaS, AI and RPA technologies. As cybersecurity and data security should take a prime position among the core values of a company, CIOs need to opt for solutions that are reliable, stable and resilient.
This also includes the adoption of automation solutions suitable for effectively managing and optimising customer and supplier invoicing and order management processes. Companies that had already adopted automated solutions for P2P and O2C processes were able to continue business activities and thereby contribute to keeping the economy going, whereas those that hadn’t, had to scramble and admit to themselves that they had squandered a valuable resource and opportunity.

If the CIO does not offer employees the professional tools they need to perform their jobs, they will often adopt workaround solutions that endanger a company’s security strategy. Because cybersecurity and data security should take a prime position among the core values of a company, CIOs need to opt for solutions that are reliable, stable and resilient.

The CIO: a catalyst of transformation

Digitisation is no longer a choice, it’s a strategic necessity that affects every line of business in a company. Going digital means rethinking all internal processes, with an explicit emphasis on management processes. Digital transformation is based on different organisational, human and technical factors. These are subject to constant decision-making processes and adjustments in order to ensure durable performance while simultaneously interrupting day-to-day operations as little as possible.

CIOs and their IT teams are the key strategists and coordinators of an effective, pragmatic and uniform approach to the digital transformation process. Listening skills, critical analysis and the ability to convey relevant instructions and recommendations are all essential qualities when the involvement of corporate Executive Committees (COMEX) comes into play.

The decisions made by the information systems team have very real ramifications throughout all of the business units. This demands a real awareness of the CIO to the needs of all business units as well as the ability to communicate effectively, constituting a multifaceted and fascinating mission for the CIO.

There are three key arguments for adopting automation solutions for P2P and O2C processes:
• Acceleration of document processing times, such as invoices, orders, remittances and delivery notes
• Visibility and traceability that can limit legal disputes and resolve them faster
• Simplified processes so employees can focus on higher-value tasks

A CIO’s experience of working with Esker

Jean-Luc Vielmont, CIO France at Algeco, says,
“The key factors leading to the success of the project were the close collaboration with Esker, effective change management and the ability to measure operational efficiency at every stage:
• Facilitation of interdepartmental cooperation
• Comprehensive change management strategies that involved end users from the onset of the project
• Reporting and dashboards providing clarity on the data flow results”

A CIO can turn challenges into opportunities by speeding up and facilitating digital transformation.
By meeting up with all business units on both a formal and informal basis allows the CIO to take charge of the process by listening to all stakeholders and advocating for the project.

Nicolas Bragard, CIO at Esker says,
“The CIO’s advantage is an ability to detect and measure the return on investment of each action to advance a company’s digital transformation. To meet this challenge, they need to step away from the day-to-day operations. Support ticket fatigue is a real risk. This is why opting for solutions with built-in ergonomics that are reliable, resilient and secure gives the most effective launch pad for a company-wide digital transformation project.”

The future – digital transformation … and then what?

Going faster, being more efficient and responsive. This is the essence of an Esker-designed digital transformation. Automation of P2P and O2C processes continue to accelerate with businesses facing tight deadlines. Regulations regarding mandatory e-invoicing are being enacted worldwide in the next few years, which will push businesses to automate their cash flow processes.
By utilising the experience and expertise of partners like Esker, CIOs will be able to ensure a smooth and stable transition to automation.

Contact us today to discuss your requirements.

¹ JDN survey/Club Décision DSI/IT Research.

Alistair Nicholas

Alistair is the Managing Director of Esker Northern Europe

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