How Technology is Inspiring a New Breed of CIO in Manufacturing: Part 2 of a 5 Part Series

The office of the CIO, first proposed in 1980, has finally come of age.

But why has it taken so long, and what particular demands does modern manufacturing place on those in the vanguard of re-imagining technology’s role? In this executive briefing, we examine the role of the Chief Information Officer, touching briefly on the key steps of what should be their journey from the computer suite to the boardroom. Over five sections, we look at Improvers, Transformers and Inspirers, mapping their skills, talents and experience against the needs of industry. We discuss the place and purpose of technology in the fiercely competitive global market. Lastly, we propose a 5-point plan to help the business meet its goals–and to help the CIO mature into a new form of business leader.

Cre8tive Technology & Design ( will be posting a five part series on How Technology is Inspiring a New Breed of CIO in Manufacturing

Part 2 – Doing things better, or doing better things?

Knowing your starting point is an advantage on any journey, so before we envisage the changes a new breed is likely to bring about, it’s worth looking at the two types of CIO currently holding sway in the manufacturing sector.

Improvers and Transformers

Improvers are highly valuable to their organizations. They concentrate on the traditional IT virtues of controlling costs, increasing efficiency, optimizing processes, and making sure the business gets the IT that it needs.

Their focus is on doing things better.

Transformers are a very different proposition. When doing things better is just not enough, it’s time to harness the energy and talents of a Transformer.

They’re the ones who do better things–bringing the power of technology to bear on business problems. For Transformers, technology is the means, not the end.

So should every CIO now become a Transformer?

Is it time for the Improver to emerge, blinking, from the dark chrysalis of the server room to become a beautiful butterfly?

Not exactly

There’s still a significant overlap, in both role and responsibility, between the two. The Improver looks at today and tomorrow, while the Transformer looks at tomorrow and beyond.

In other words, you need to be a solid Improver before you can truly be a Transformer.

Only if you’re able to improve your manufacturing processes (productivity, profitability, efficiency and quality), can you make time for and dedicate your resources to innovation.

For some CIOs, this is a natural progression. It allows them a much freer rein to act decisively and to demonstrate their worth to the business.

For others, it is a step too far outside their comfort zone.

For them, there’s an uncomfortable truth to be faced; while in the past manufacturing had need of Improvers, the time for cutting a way out of trouble has been and gone.

Indeed, it could be argued that such a limited approach is itself flawed in strategy and execution. The hanging question is: “If you’ve been as efficient as you claim, why is there still something to cut?”

But that is almost irrelevant, given the vastly redrawn landscape of recent years.

New business models, new challenges

Never before has there been such an explosion of manufacturing business models.

Never before have manufacturers had to embrace so many different ways to source and manage suppliers, produce products, and reach customers.

Never before has there been such a demand for speed, re-invention, agility, and innovation.

Faced with these challenges, the successful CIO knows that if the business is to remain competitive, the CIO needs to shift the focus from Improver to Transformer–and, crucially, take others with him on the journey.

Again, there are three key questions for any CIO pondering the future–and, arguably, for any organization contemplating change:

What is your strategy to reconcile cost savings and innovation?

As a CIO, how do you persuade others to embrace risk and initiate change?

What kind of leader do you want to be?

Rapidly accelerating discontinuous change forces a re-examination of strategy and tactics. How prepared are you to cope with the following list?

  • Globalization
  • Supply chain upheaval
  • Cloud, virtualization, BYOD, data explosion
  • New competitors and emerging markets
  • The need for customer intimacy, insight and intelligence
  • The demand for agility
  • New business models
  • Integration with the multi-enterprise
  • Accessing information anywhere
  • The need for better decision-making capabilities
  • Dealing with information silos

From an Epicor White Paper

About Epicor

Epicor Software Corporation is a global leader delivering business software solutions to the manufacturing, distribution, retail, and service industries. With more than 40 years of experience, Epicor has more than 20,000 customers in over 150 countries. Epicor solutions enable companies to drive increased efficiency and improve profitability. With a history of innovation, industry expertise, and passion for excellence, Epicor inspires customers to build lasting competitive advantage. Epicor provides the single point of accountability that local, regional, and global businesses demand. For more information, visit

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