By Aaron LazenBy
Business growth is always an important goal, but in this time of economic recovery it can be challenging for executives to determine the right course to lead their organizations. The results from a 2009 survey of Oracle customers worldwide found that CIOs have an interesting perspective on business strategy.
CIOs concurred with other company executives surveyed that attracting and retaining new customers is the critical focus—an unexpected departure from cost-cutting and efficiency via technology, which were ranked fourth and fifth by CIOs. Further, CIOs suggested maximizing current customer relationships should be the second-highest priority.
What CIOs bring to the table regarding customer relationships is the understanding that as the recession comes to a close, there are huge opportunities for companies to emerge as market leaders. Technology will be a big part of enabling customer relationships by providing ways to share information, meet customer needs, and solidify customer loyalty. Successful companies that achieve competitive advantage will be the ones that can successfully harness and implement rapidly changing technologies to meet customer demands.
Toby Hatch, senior strategist at Oracle, is pleased to see that CIOs are focused on immediate business needs—other than cost savings—but points out that it is important to think about tomorrow’s innovation as well. This is acknowledged in the survey results by the CIOs ranking the implementation of SOAs at the top of their technology priority list. However, as other executives in the survey do not share this same priority for SOA, CIOs need to work on getting buy-in from the other executives.
Hatch believes that the survey findings demonstrate that CIOs are beginning to emerge as full partners in the boardroom instead of simply focusing internally on efficiency. “They used to be gatekeepers answering whether something could be accomplished with technology. Now, CIOs are enablers,” she says. “They used to have the role of saying ‘No we can’t.’ They were never asked, ‘Should we?’ CIOs are now looking at ways to create revenue opportunities with technology.”
Twice a year, Oracle surveys customer organizations about their business improvement priorities and technologies in which they plan to invest. The survey in late 2009 queried more than 200 Oracle customers to gain insights. In the upcoming 2010 surveys, Oracle plans to craft new questions to further investigate the changing role of CIOs.
“Companies with large Oracle footprints tend to be forward-thinking, creative companies,” says Hatch. “We want to substantiate and validate what we’re finding to see if in a year and a half the new role of CIOs has moved beyond select companies and become widespread the way we predict it will.”
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