A Chief Information Officer’s guide to navigating change and uncertainty

By John Ellis, - Employee experienceFuture WorkplaceUncategorized

Chief Information Officers (CIO) have been instrumental in guiding organizations through what’s been a period of rapid transformation and technological innovation.

The pace of these changes has thrown up several challenges, and coupled with a declining economy, CIOs will continue to contend with difficulties as they transform their business.

As members of the board, CIOs will likely be looking to drive the business forward by putting the necessary tools & processes in place enabling employees to move closer towards their purpose and their goals. However, this will need to be a balancing act. One that is also cost-effective and puts safeguards in place to protect the business from cyber attackers preying on business’ now borderless offices.

Within this lies multiple other challenges, from gaining buy-in from the top-down and ensuring sustainability, to understanding what tools are needed by the business. CIOs face these challenges against a backdrop of uncertainty, in which not all actions can be pre-planned.

However, in this blog, I’ll outline some of the best ways CIOs can best position themselves to contend with the contemporary issues IT face while encountering last minute changes. As well as explain why the answer lies in human-centric approaches.


Finding a human-centric strategy

A common misconception about IT professionals is that their role predominantly focuses on technology. In part, this is true. But the ultimate motivations behind adopting digital tools aren’t the capabilities they possess and the benefits they potentially bring, but how they help employees achieve their goals.

Technology is an enabler. And for CIOs to implement the right tools for employees to be enabled, they must find out what those needs are in the first place. In turn, humans need to be at the center of business decisions, which naturally creates overlap between the CIOs scope and Chief Human Resources Officer’s (CHRO) scope.

Therefore, it’s incredibly useful for CIOs and CHROs to feedback to one another regularly on how their people can be empowered. Together, it would be wise to create a human-centric approach, which is something Fujitsu have witnessed the advantages first-hand by also implementing a human-centric approach as part of the Fujitsu Work Life Shift enabled with Microsoft.

If you’re able to understand employees from across the business (including those outside the role of information workers, such as frontline workers, who often have first-hand access to customer feedback), CIOs will be in a much better position to accurately select the right digital tools to accelerate the business forward.


Approaching the security concerns of remote working

Although remote working has arguably introduced many benefits to the employee experience, it must be acknowledged that working beyond the office’s firewall has introduced more risk to organizations.

Now, CIOs must work out how to protect their business from security breaches as well as their brand reputation which could be massively damaged by a headline-breaking attack.

Essentially, a distributed workforce brings multiple risk vectors, and this requires businesses to take a completely different approach to security and compliance – one likely lead by the expertise of the CIO.

As part of Fujitsu’s Work Life Shift, in partnership with Microsoft, we’ve also been rolling out security measures, namely cloud-based tech and Microsoft 365 suited to enabling employees to work across a borderless office. These include tools such as:

  • Microsoft Entra for identity and access management
  • Microsoft Intune for endpoint management
  • Microsoft Defender suite for security and threat protection
  • Microsoft Purview for information and data protection
  • Microsoft Sentinel for SIEM and SOAR

By working with clients, we’ve found that persona mapping in a different way to before the popularity of remote and hybrid working is key. Persona mapping is not a new concept, it’s been used for decades.

However, rather than having industry profiles that center around job roles, such as information worker, it’s useful to center personas around working habits. By grouping employees into working habits, you’ll be able to understand the best security defenses to protect each employee group in their working life, regardless of the variety of working patterns and locations within your workforce.

For example, information workers and frontline workers have very different needs. Furthermore, information workers again can be further grouped by different habits, some working from home, some on the go and others hybrid working. All workers need to be able to work their way, staying connected and productive whilst also being secure and compliant.


Testing and failing successfully

Fruitful digital transformations are often those that have room for innovation. CIOs ideally need to have the space to test and fail, as well as the ability to pivot quickly. To have this digital exploration not only requires support from leadership, but the ability to glean regular feedback and measure the success of new technology which can be achieved by using tools such as the Microsoft Viva Employee Experience Platform.

Microsoft Viva can help the individual, teams and the organization to automatically feedback on what is working, what isn’t working, what risks are posed to the organization and what changes or nudges could be implement to make subtle but impactful benefits.


Increasing eco and business sustainability

Sustainability in its broadest concept is also becoming a huge consideration for businesses implementing new digital tools — whether that be societally or economically sustainable.

Technology can certainly help here, especially with digital tools such as emissions calculators. However, this needs to be paired with HR policies that reinforce regular use of the calculators and underline a frequent obligation to record and report. Successfully aligning HR policies with digital tools can reap big efficiency rewards on small budgets, as has recently been demonstrated during Fujitsu’s work with the Finnish city of Lahti.


Cost-saving tech investments

Cost-saving is always a concern, but it will be particularly prevalent in the coming years. CIOs are no doubt looking at how they can reduce costs while also providing the best tools to ensure the workforce is able to work at their optimum.

Microsoft’s 365 tech stack has aimed to help businesses reduce up to 60% of existing costs by creating an end-to-end capability. It eliminates the need for CIOs to buy individual best-in-class tools, then manually integrating but retain the quality businesses are looking for.

Microsoft are currently pairing its offering with Fujitsu’s expertise in service cost reduction. For instance, Fujitsu works with CIOs to assess efficiencies with the aim of decreasing outgoings and bringing greater benefits. This is coupled with helping customers with licensing. So where are existing licenses still needed? And could cheaper licenses be used when it comes to specific personas in the organization.

If you’re a CIO and would like some guidance on how to cost-save while reaping the full benefits of a human-centric digital transformation, you can find out more about how Microsoft, Fujitsu, and our expert partners can help you here.

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