Home CIO Insight The less CIOs will see technology by itself, the more successful they will be

The less CIOs will see technology by itself, the more successful they will be


Alain Conrath, CIO, Mutualité Chrétienne


I don’t believe there’s one CIO mandate. Instead, there’s a clear mandate for a CIO within a specific organisation. More specifically about mine, it is about bringing more efficiency to our business and within the organisation through its transformation process. The Christian Mutuality permanently reviews all of its many processes, and most of the business transformation is based on performing and innovative systems, applications and infrastructure. For instance, we have completely reorganized and automated the administration and billing processes towards hospitals, representing about 20 million Euro investments on a 2 years timeframe and with a ROI calculated on 7 years.

In such projects, my role as a CIO consists of being some kind of maestro, coordinating and harmonizing several aspects from both technology and business points of view. I am expected to master budget and planning, technology and methods, risk management and innovation. Exactly like a maestro is nothing without musicians, the CIO is just nothing without a strong team he can trust – and that trust him in return.

Although the CIO must balance the 3 aspects, I see the strategic role being more relevant today. By being strategic, I mean being a facilitator both inside and outside his department. Inside the whole organisation, the CIO must understand the corporate objectives and related business challenges, and imagine how to translate them into reliable and effective solutions upon a priority plan. Inside the IT department, the CIO must turn those priorities into concrete deliverables and overcome the difficulties to ensure the planning is respected. As a CIO, you must be clear about where you want to go and what you want to do. But being strategic also means understanding the notion of service towards the organisation, the staff and the customers as well.

With the recession bells resonating in our minds, CIOs will face a more varied agenda and set of responsibilities than ever before. The business will be even more demander for improving things such as workforce productivity, boosting innovation or maximizing customer experience while keeping existing assets running. Delivering, delivering and delivering again and again is what will mostly drive CIOs. As a result, they will be particularly influential to drive business transformation and strategic investments, and so will be their challenge within the limits of stricter budgets and resources.

The less CIOs will see technology by itself, the more successful they will be. The CIO must understand which contribution and benefit technology may bring to the
organisation to reach its strategic objectives in a variety of ways such as employee productivity objectives, customer experience objectives, product innovation objectives, security objectives, etc. All this through solid business cases, risk management assessments and ROI commitments. For most CIOs, I see their mandate clearly turning into optimisation, innovation and creativity from 4 standpoints: people, processes, technology, and risk management.

I shouldn’t speak about a bigger influence, but rather about a larger role as both a technology advisor and a strategy counselor. Many CIOs complain about the fact that the function is rarely represented in a Board. I don’t believe this must be an objective. Being consulted by the Board about how the company can be more successful and competitive or how people may be more productive and engaged is really what gives the highest level ofsatisfaction in the job.

I don’t really care about this. I love my job and the many challenges that are part of it. In parallel, I love this organisation as it is permanently changing and evolving the right way. Today, MC/CM has 4,5 million clients -say members- we must serve every day through our 6.000 employees and 50.000 volunteers all over the country. This requires a never-ending intellectual exercise to permanently improve our quality and rapidity of service, and by doing so disserve their trust. I am very proud to be a part -even a small one- of this daily challenge.


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