October 7, 2014

IT helps changing business perspectives

Kim Lindgren

CIO, Tieto

This is the opening post to our second blog challenge. We are challenging Jani Penttinen, CEO from Transfluent, Arno Smit, CTO from FundedByMe and Markku Raitio, Head of Unit from the City of Helsinki.

Updates to daily-use technology will change everything we do. Imagine this: one day, I’m walking through the park on a sunny day. I come across a bird I’ve never seen before, but information from the Internet about the bird is then displayed in my contact lenses. After sitting down, my watch reminds me that I need to leave for an appointment in 15 minutes. Since my skin is getting too much sun, a notification reminds me to put my hat on.

In a few decades, the computers we currently have will disappear and computing will be embedded in everything. Microchips will cost nothing – or, they will cost as much as RFID tags do today. This means they can be embedded even in the cheapest products, just like the melody greeting cards of today. Today’s water systems, electricity, and heating systems are all fully integrated into our infrastructure. Answering the question, “Where is the water or the electricity?” is difficult. It’s the same for future IT; you will not need light switches in the future, because you’ll just ask for the lights to turn on. You will not need to search for a computer to do an online search; you can use your wearable devices, contact lenses, or the AI integrated into your car, building or refrigerator to search the term for you.

Since computing in the future will be integrated to everything, digitalisation is not only moving from the back office to the front office, but it will actually be the core of all product development in the future. This is a tough problem to handle. Believing that existing IT organisations can shift from their traditional role and become top product development engineers overnight is simply untrue.

This might be the cause of the pain many CIOs are feeling. Perhaps they foresee that digitalising their customer care or marketing will not bring them forward quickly enough. Good examples can be found in media. Media has moved from paper to digital almost overnight, like Pauli Aalto-Setälä wrote: “In the media industry, “turning around” is not needed. This change is more like metamorphosis.” The winners in this industry have managed to shift from traditional media houses to IT driven digital players.

We will be seeing the same change in the medical industry. Traditional healthcare will become high-tech with nanorobots, surgery robots, artificial and 3D-printed spare parts.The role of future doctors and nurses will then be to orchestrate the different systems. Also, patients will be more interested in their own health, since they can measure their wellbeing with wearables. Will the driver of this change be the IT department of hospitals,or someone else?

CIOs are definitely concerned about digitalization. They are worried about whether they have the right talent beside them. At the same time 54% of Nordic executives think that the role of CIO will become more important in the future. How, then, are CIOs preparing for the future? Some are investing in the cloud. I see that almost all are investing in cloud, weather it is a public, private, or hybrid cloud. CIOs are also thinking of partnerships and networks, in which startups also play a role. Also, new ways of working will emerge, such as implementing agile methodologies.

Companies’ working environments are changing faster than ever which brings new challenges. Executives and team-leaders have to make faster decisions on what to start developing. Roadmaps need constant evaluation. Breakthrough inventions and hype have to be disconnected early enough so that companies lose as little money as possible.

I want to challenge a couple of people to answer to this question: how does your company balance between running your basic IT infrastructure, development, and adaptation of new technologies? What sort of choices do you have to make? The people I ask this question are:

You can find our Future of Business Transformation study here.

Kim Lindgren is the CIO of Tieto. You can read more about him here. This is the opening post to our second blog challenge. We are challenging Jani Penttinen, CEO from Transfluent, Arno Smit, CTO from FundedByMe and Markku Raitio, Head of Unit from the City of Helsinki.

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