The absolute central “mission critical” task for today’s CIOs is that of providing enduring Competitive Advantage for their companies. Making sure the ERP system works or the Accounts Payable system or the Payroll system or, heaven forbid, the email system works with tolerable reliability … none of these count, and they haven’t counted much for several decades. Yes, they all must work but they are all “routine” in nature and offer few opportunities for competitive differentiation.
Using technology – in all its forms – to enhance the customer experience by easier ordering, faster delivery, guaranteed availability, etc. – has been the name of the game since American Airline’s SABRE system in the 1970s through Schwab’s industry-changing, internet-based brokerage system in the 1990s right up to now with Kroger’s guaranteed super-fast check-out times in all of its stores.
The roles of CIOs who “get it” has not changed since Day One. It has, for almost sixty years, been cast in concrete as “Delivering Competitive Advantage” as discovered by Max Hopper at American Airlines (lates 1970s) or Dawn Lepore at Charles Schwab (mid 1990s) or Carl Wilson at Marriott (~2005) or Filippo Passerini at P&G (2012) or Chris Hjelm at Kroger (2013) or Patty Morrison at Cardinal Health (2014) or Rebecca Rhoads at Raytheon (2015).