The CIO's mission: Re-envisioning the transformation backlog

how CIOs are tackling transformation backlog

Scan the internet for chief information officer (CIO) job descriptions, resume summaries, or LinkedIn's "About" section. Then, try to find one that doesn't include some formulation of the phrases: "driving business transformation" or "fostering innovation." But, especially in today's economic climate, it's closer to the truth to say that the CIO is the gatekeeper of the IT budget.

Whether it's SAP migrations pushed out, or businesses going their own way with technology, the job of the CIO is becoming less and less about driving business transformation and innovation. The responsibility hasn’t changed, but the power to get things done is diminishing.

This reduction in CIO power represents a good time to get disruptive and reclaim the responsibility of transforming the business with technology.

There's never enough time or money

Given unlimited time and money, there's a tremendous swath of things that you could do to transform and improve the business. In fact, the CIO’s main responsibility is to make the priority calls to distill everything that you could do...

What CIOs should be addressing

…into what you plan to do:

What CIOs plan for vs should be addressing

What happens in a given year is often less still, as reality sets in and projects grow more complicated and time consuming than planned, or business priorities change.

What CIOs will get done vs should be addressing graphic

There's even another box beyond the end of this one. This box consists of all the improvement opportunities you don't even know about because they hide in the operations of the business.

What CIOs should be addressing vs left to the business grapic

And none of this even considers what happens when emerging technology, like ChatGPT, gets dropped into the mix.

Even though the general perception is that the CIO owns this entire backlog, the reality is different. The budget, tools, and personnel they're given is enough to execute just a small part of the transformation backlog. This condition is a problem, but it also represents an opportunity. What can we do to address the remainder of the backlog?

Taking on the rest of the opportunity

Today, most of the problem (and opportunity) of the gray part of the backlog above is simply thrown over the wall to the business. The CIO organization provides bulletproof IT systems for the most important processes within the organization. And it gives generic tools, like Microsoft Excel, SharePoint, email, and so on to the business to solve the remainder. UiPath as a company has had great success working with businesses to provide significantly more operational agility using the UiPath Business Automation Platform. But in most companies, the CIO has much less involvement in the automation program than they should.

What the CIO is addressing today

The result is a patchwork of value that leaves a great deal on the table. But there's another way to think about it¹.

Cost center vs. profit center

We can think about the backlog in two distinct parts. The green part, which we know we're going to accomplish, is a cost center. We know what to do and how we're going to do it. We know the technologies and costs involved, and it's where the vast majority of the obvious benefit is, and where the vast majority of our effort will be spent.

The remainder of the backlog represents things we don't have the time or money to do. Rather than ignore it, how about we set up a system where we can run projects in a way that they pay for themselves? In other words, as a profit center. When we talk about how automation can have a transformational impact, this is what we mean. In most businesses, the scope of the automation program is rather spotty, because the business doesn't have the kind of visibility into the problem that the CIO organization does.

Might there be a way to bring some of the rigor, discipline, and vantage point of the CIO organization without losing the agility and responsiveness of a business-led automation program?

There is, and we'll show you exactly how to do it in the next few articles in this series. For now, it all starts with the CIO taking back ownership of the entire transformation backlog. Not just the part we know we can complete today.

¹There's another reason you might care about this pathwork of value. Anything in gray (in the graphics above) is going to be something users are complaining about. Isn't it nice to provide them with a relief valve for all of this angst?

Shaun Dawson Headshot
Shaun Dawson

Principal Architect, Platform Solutions, UiPath

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