How companies can drive innovation while ensuring operational excellence

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Editor’s Note: The following is a guest article by Jeff Riehl, Executive Vice President and CTO of LexisNexis North America.

Achieving operational excellence and innovation are essential to the long-term success of any business.

Innovation, both internally and externally, can help a business grow faster, better serve its customers, and have a positive impact on its revenue. Operational excellence, supported by a strong DevOps culture, can boost the speed of innovation, accelerate time to market, improve productivity, and improve reliability and quality.

Yet 76% of IT managers find it difficult to achieve the right balance between business innovation and operational excellence, mainly due to the increased focus on functional tasks brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, itaccording to that of this year Status of the CIO investigation.

Every organization’s needs are different, but most CEOs are arguably more focused on innovation. They are more likely to allocate capital expenditures to customer-centric projects that generate revenue or increase competitiveness rather than improving the performance of internal or back-office systems.

The CIOs of the investigation seem to agree; 68% say generating income is part of their mandate. The challenge for CIOs is to execute the first without neglecting the second while staying on budget.

Here are some best practices and principles that strategic CIOs can apply to drive innovation and deliver operational excellence at the same time with minimal and incremental increases in investments.

Invest once to solve multiple challenges

When considering investments in innovation or operational excellence, look for ways to do things more efficiently. and at the same time offer added value to the customer.

For example, when deploying a next-generation product or a set of new technological features, take the opportunity to refactor the underlying technologies to improve performance, reduce code complexity, or initiate other changes that can make future upgrades easier and faster. Conversely, if you are investing in improving the software or fixing a defect, take the opportunity to look for ways to deliver better and faster or improve the workflow for end users.

Addressing both efficiency and customer value with each new initiative requires a little extra planning and a new way of thinking, but it allows CIOs to tackle multiple issues with a single investment of time and money.

Embrace automation around targeted processes

All organizations have certain categories of expenses, such as compliance and security, that are non-negotiable. In these situations, it makes more sense to optimize spend through automation and look for investments that will scale.

For example, invest in automated tools to automatically detect and deploy critical software patches or updates instead of expensive, error-prone manual processes.

Automate business and / or IT process improvements was one of a number of activities that have grown in importance over the past year, according to the survey, and 81% of respondents said they expected it to become more important in the next six to twelve months. reso will allow CIOs to focus resources on value-generating activities, rather than wasting limited IT dollars on repetitive “mandatory” tasks.

Beyond that, automation can create operational efficiencies while delivering new capabilities and innovations to market faster.

A great example of automation that can deliver both results is the move to microservices or micro-frontend applications. Suppose an organization initially develops a new product or service for a specific geographic area or market segment, but ultimately wants to develop the product globally. Reusable micro-interfaces can help streamline and scale the development process so that it only takes a sprint or two to locate the offering for a particular market or segment rather than the months or years it takes. ‘It would be necessary if each market or segment were treated individually.

Dismantling large, monolithic applications that are difficult to modify at scale is essential for faster and more secure software deployments.

Take advantage of market changes or disruptions to invest in IT

Understandably, many organizations tend to back down and fall back when faced with financial uncertainties or similar seismic changes in the market. But organizations that embrace these changes can bounce back faster and become more resilient when they have the means to innovate even faster.

Eighty-two percent of CIO survey respondents say they have implemented new technologies, IT strategies and / or methodologies due to the pandemic. Of the top business initiatives driving IT investments, 36% of CIOs now say transforming existing business processes is the top priority, followed by increasing cybersecurity protections (34%) and improving the customer experience (33%). This contrasts with last year’s survey, where increasing operational efficiency (37%) was the most frequently mentioned business initiative to drive investment.

The pandemic has made companies realize that they can (or must) change the way they operate. The move towards hybrid work environments has required new IT systems and collaborative technologies, processes and approaches. Meeting these new demands has helped CIOs identify new opportunities for innovation and operational excellence.

The implementation of advanced technologies such as machine learning and natural language processing, and the exploration of emerging technologies such as IoT, augmented reality or blockchain are still the focus. Other customer-oriented initiatives have become a priority. These included enable better customer experiences and alternatives to face-to-face communications, adapt products and services to meet new demands and deliver products and services in new ways.

As the pandemic recedes, CIOs will likely revert to familiar priorities like drive business innovation, refresh business and IT strategy, lead change efforts and implement new systems and architectures.

But I hope the experience of having to make rapid technological change out of necessity has definitely changed the way CIOs approach new tasks, helping them recognize that it is possible to drive innovation and operational excellence simultaneously. even with their traditionally tight budgets.

Go from an “either or” approach to a “both and” approach may cost a few extra dollars and a little more time up front, but the dividends of these additional investments may include lower future costs, higher revenues, accelerated product and IT development / deployment, as well. efficiency, flexibility and scalability. The approach is also likely to improve the overall satisfaction of customers, CEO and other key stakeholders.


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