Five Challenges CIOs Will Be Facing Over The Next Five Years

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Answers by Gary Reiner, Operating Partner at General Atlantic, Former CIO and Senior VP of GE, on Quora.

A:It's a fascinating time. My own personal view is that we are at the cusp of what I call "good deflation", which will change many, many things. Bad deflation occurs because of lack of demand. Good deflation occurs because technology/innovations lower the cost of providing a good or service. The most obvious example is a smart phone which one can get for $200, substitutes for what would have cost in the tens of thousands ten years ago. A music player, alarm clock, camera (still and video), remote controller, etc.  How does that show up in the CPI?  Now take transportation; transportation as a service will dramatically lower the cost of car ownership as vehicle utilization goes way up. Throw in there autonomous vehicles and the cost of transportation as a service goes down by another 70%!

What will 3D printing do to construction? Fracking for energy! Genetics/telemedicine/wearables for better and lower cost healthcare? The hypothesis is that the real cost of living will begin to go down and so a constant nominal salary will be an increase in real salary. By the way, one of the possible implications is persistent negative interest rates which is unintuitive but already happening in many countries around the world.


A: First challenge is to make the migration to cloud architecture where app development cycle times take about one third of traditional app development cycle times and the infrastructure costs are anywhere from one third to one fifth traditional infrastructure costs.

The second challenge is to make the migration from worrying about infrastructure to taking a front seat in the business. So many of the changes to every business model have to do with technology, and so being the advocate, both for offense and defense, is a natural role for the CIO.

The third challenge is to leverage data analytics for insights into growth and cost reduction opportunities.

Fourth is to work cross-functionally with the business to drive both process and business change.

Fifth is to hire and retain great people because increasingly this function is more and more strategic and the premium for great people has never been greater. So you must find, develop, and retain great tech people.


A: One of the newer sources of productivity for large companies will be replacing labor intensive white collar processes with "software robots" and "cognitive automation". The former will automate what humans heretofore had done to connect data outputs of disparate applications to execute actions. The latter will take unstructured data, textual, audio, and video info, and convert it to structured data and act on it. Both will drive significant cost out of business processes and hopefully allow those workers to do more stimulating work.

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