Behind the minds of successful CIOs

CIOs have traditionally been the stewarts of the design, development, and management aspects of a company’s internal IT systems. But in a rapidly digitising business environment, more CIOs have found themselves at the forefront of the development process for external-facing products that are marketed and sold to customers.

IDC predicts that by the end of 2022, 65% of Asia’s GDP will be digitised. At the same time, an Amplitude report found that daily active use of digital products has grown globally by 54% from January 2020. As a result, CIOs today need to shift their priorities to balance the traditional demands of their jobs, while prioritising digital innovation for new digital products and services to drive business growth.

We’re already seeing this impact the way CIOs participate in company planning. A survey of CIOs this year found that 58% of them are proactively identifying business needs and opportunities, a significant increase of 28% from the year before. But in an attempt to address their newfound priorities, some CIOs have taken to initiating ill-informed digital transformation projects, which ultimately result in their companies falling behind as these projects are unable to drive business outcomes. The key then, for any CIO, is to understand the value of using data to build great digital products and services, so they can ensure they’re making the right bets.

Understanding the ‘why’ in digital transformation

While securing funding is important for any digital transformation project, it is crucial for CIOs to first understand the objectives behind the projects. Specifically, CIOs need to define how a project can drive improvement across different lines of business and impact the bottom line.

For instance, CIOs can work with their marketing team to better understand what drives user acquisition and spending, or collaborate with the product development team to understand what features capture user attention, encourage repeat usage, or lead to user abandonment.

By reviewing data and gaining a 360-degree view of the customer journey in their digital products, CIOs can adjust business processes, their key drivers, and how they impact the bottom line — to ultimately maximise digital investments.

Understanding the value of data democratisation

To effectively leverage product data, CIOs must ensure that data is accessible across the organisation.

When digitisation was in its infancy, there was a heavy emphasis on data collection and having a small group of people in charge of that data to ensure high-quality analysis. But mature digital organisations quickly realised that model is not scalable. Now, the previous generation of “data gatekeepers” are motivated to find ways to make data more self-service. Enabling every employee to be data-driven helps organisations move faster, make smarter bets, and stay away from the trap of listening to the HiPPO, meaning the Highest Paid Person’s Opinion.

While releasing control of data may seem daunting, product data is best utilised by the people who work closest with the product. CIOs need to cultivate a culture of data democratisation to drive marketing, product development, and business decisions. Organisations with effective CIOs typically look at user behaviour as the guidepost for where to invest.

Moving beyond vanity metrics 

Apart from putting data into the hands of those who use it, CIOs need to understand the power of in-depth product data. While many companies claim to be data-driven, they’re often just relying on surface-level metrics like page clicks and views. This data is great, but it doesn’t tell you the “why” behind those actions.

Efficient and innovative teams, on the other hand, will drill deep into all sorts of data across product and marketing analytics to gain a holistic view on what’s working and what’s not — and why or why not. The key lies in integrating data natively with analytics, such that product, engineering, and marketing can move quickly from insight to action, constantly iterating and improving.

The digital revolution has allowed us to tap into much more comprehensive and actionable data that was previously unavailable. In the past, when you sold a product, that was probably the end of your ability to collect further data. The most an organisation could do was to conduct a post-purchase follow-up, which was time-consuming and expensive.

In comparison, organisations today can obtain real-time feedback on product usage. They can see when customers are using a product, what leads to a sale, what notifications inspire action, and much more. This empowers CIOs and people across their organisations to make more informed decisions instead of relying on their gut or the HiPPO.

Product data can also be used to unearth previously unknown business problems and opportunities, which CIOs can then address with an appropriate digital transformation initiative. In fact, product data can be used to form part of the solution to said business problems and opportunities.

Only by fully understanding the rationale of a project, democratising data, and leveraging in-depth product data, can CIOs unlock the full potential of their digital transformation projects. Because at the end of the day, everyone’s goal is growth.