How Technology is Inspiring a New Breed of CIO in Manufacturing: Part 4 of a 5 Part Series

Introduction – Executive Summary

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 4 – Earning the right to lead: a five-point plan

That quotation, attributed to Alan Kay, the noted computer scientist, neatly summarizes the extent of the opportunity(Opens in a new window) available to the modern CIO.

1. Support the future of the business through innovation

The CIO needs to drive the future of the business through innovation–new technologies that breathe new life into essential but stagnating processes.

This is the Transformer element of the role, and the goal here is to speed up processes and increase the velocity of the business, while cutting out waste and focusing on operational excellence.

However, there’s a balance to be maintained.

So for the remainder of the time, it is business as usual for the Improver with ‘keeping the lights on’ activities–managing the existing IT environment to ensure business continuity, while having a keen eye on continually reducing costs.

2. Solve business problems with technology

As the CIO becomes increasingly Transformer-centric the focus on innovation becomes more acute.

At this stage, the CIO starts to be more actively involved in strategy setting, enabling flexibility and change. Today’s CIO anticipates and solves business problems with IT–not just solving IT problems. A key aspect of the role is to provide a broad technology agenda.

This should be designed to help the business benefit from leading edge applications; and from the alignment of the IT and business strategies. By now, the CIO should understand the need for greater visibility. A CIO should be able to access, extract and proactively use data to raise business analysis to new heights for strategic decision making. This is a first–and essential–step to enabling the business to be more reactive to market dynamics.

3. Use technology to drive cultural shifts

At this stage, the CIO will have a good understanding of how technology can also help to drive cultural shifts and be a catalyst to transform the organizational mind-set towards collaboration.

And it’s not just internal collaboration, although an important part of the role is to evangelize the team on how technology can deliver more value to the internal organization.

In simple terms, a CIO applies technology to increase productivity, while at the same time reducing cost and time to market.

The real skill comes in recognizing opportunities to extend collaboration to the company’s supply chain, and to the external customer–fostering better service, in order to deliver better service.

4. Change perceptions around the use and value of technology

Being an ‘Inspirer’ means extending innovation to facilitate a tangible change in perception towards the use and value of technology.

Critically, this change of perception shouldn’t just affect the end-users of technology–employees who log onto the network every day, or who access company data on their own devices from just about anywhere.

The IT staff must also undergo a sea-change in attitude, if the plan is to succeed. It’s about being able to say ‘yes’ to increasing demands for mobile productivity, or third-party resources. And it’s about being able to give up large chunks of traditional responsibility (for example, physical infrastructure), without compromising security, productivity, or excellence.

5. Collaborate and partner to continually deliver results

Finally, everyone needs to understand and see the measurable benefits; the bottom-line improvements following adoption of various new technologies.

The CIO’s willingness to collaborate, to share and to devolve responsibility is shown best in the ability to select the right systems–systems that have been developed and inspired through a vendor’s keen understanding of what the business need.

This is the perfect platform on which to raise the profile of the IT organization; it’s also the ideal opportunity to build personal credibility through the ability to continually deliver and implement the right solutions.

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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