For years, the role of the chief information officer (CIO) has been to acquire and maintain cost-effective IT services for the organization. Technology was viewed as a basic necessity, so managing costs and ensuring systems were running smoothly were the primary areas of focus for corporate IT leaders.
Today, technology is much more than a commodity. In fact, for many investment management firms, it has evolved into a source of competitive advantage. This change, combined with stagnant IT budgets, has caused the role of the CIO to move away from basic IT management to become more of a forward-thinking innovator for the organization. Here are a few strategies to help ease this transition.
Rather than looking at your IT budget first, start with your employees.
How is your staff using technology to perform their jobs? Are there changes that could be made to help them become more efficient? If you have employees who travel frequently or telecommute, consider how they’re accessing critical systems and applications. If many members of your staff are working remotely or using smartphones, tablets or laptops on a regular basis, what changes can be made to make their experiences more seamless?
Think like a CMO.
A recent Gartner study found that CIOs are highly focused on efficiency and processes, while chief marketing officers (CMOs) are more concentrated on delivering strategic value and developing long-term relationships. Try examining your firm’s needs from the marketer’s perspective. How are your clients using technology to interact with the firm? What information are they seeking when doing so? Could these experiences be enhanced in any way to foster a stronger relationship? Also, consider speaking directly with your Sales and Marketing personnel to gain a better understanding of how they're seeing clients interface with the company and where IT can get involved to ensure smoother interactions.
Take a close look at new tools and trends.
For many investment firms, cloud-based infrastructures are proving highly beneficial, especially in helping to increase operational efficiency without major capital outlays. Another new trend to keep a close eye on is BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). Enabling employees to utilize their personal mobile devices and tablets for business purposes can result in cost savings and greater computing flexibility for the organization.
Consider outsourcing options.
You IT staff is likely over-worked, and increasing headcount is an expensive solution. To supplement your existing team, it may make sense to outsource some aspects of the IT and operational aspects of the firm. Outsourcing options abound, so you can offload as little or as much are you’re comfortable with. Hosted IT services are a major area where we’re seeing firms outsource, but there are many others as well, including:
- Help desk support
- Application hosting
- FIX connectivity
- Disaster recovery
- Project management
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