Automation as a strategic imperative to CIO priorities

Automation as a strategic imperative to CIO priorities

The role of the CIO has changed somewhat and the pressure for them to prove the value of their investments has never been higher. Jagjit Dhaliwal, VP Global CIO Industry Leader, UiPath, discusses how CIOs can ensure they are investing in the right technology and how automation plays a key role in addressing the difficulties businesses are facing, including the Great Resignation and labour shortage.

If you are not close to the role, you would be forgiven for presuming the types of challenges faced by the modern CIO haven’t changed too drastically. Finding and retaining top talent, instilling a friendly but efficient work environment and bolstering security are tasks CIOs have long been judged by and continue to be.

However, closer inspection shows the role has become tougher than ever in 2022. While CIOs pursue Digital Transformation, they are facing macroeconomic conditions such as inflation, supply chain disruption and labour shortages that are making their roles significantly more trying. This coupled with the need to continuously demonstrate that the technology they’re investing in is adding value to the business and delivering nearly immediate RoI, all the while budgets are being squeezed. 

Jagjit Dhaliwal, VP Global CIO Industry Leader, UiPath

Not only this, but CIOs are also facing the unprecedented challenges of the Great Resignation. A recent UiPath survey uncovered its impact, discovering that 58% of UK office workers don’t know what their responsibilities are anymore due to coworkers resigning. As a result, 43% say they would consider resigning from their jobs in the next six months. And if that wasn’t alarming enough, the country is facing a digital skills shortage, with a government report finding that nearly half of UK companies are struggling to recruit for roles that require hard data skills.

These challenges demonstrate exactly why it is now more critical than ever that CIOs maximise the potential of their technology investments. In acknowledgement of this, UiPath recently announced its inaugural CIO Automation Council, comprised of pioneering and innovative CIOs from across multiple industries. The Council is part of UiPath’s broader focus around the CIO, including a CIO Industry Practice dedicated to delivering value to CIOs through education, networking and thought leadership. It endeavours to accelerate automation maturity through sharing best practices; identifying new business objectives and market needs for automation; and establishing industry benchmarks and provide input to guide industry regulation.

Pressure has never been higher on CIOs to prove the value of their investments. So, how can they ensure they are investing in the right technology and what role does automation play in it?

Automation offsetting the impact of labour shortages

The recent UiPath survey of business executives revealed 78% are likely to invest more in automation to offset the impact of the labour shortage. In addition, a report by IDC predicts that by next year, 60% of CIOs will be primarily measured for their ability to co-create new business models and outcomes through extensive enterprise and ecosystem-wide collaboration.

Business leaders have flocked to automation tools in recent years to empower their workforces to work smarter, not harder and foster greater organisational output. Executives can even leverage automation software to assist with hiring itself. UiPath found that 58% of executives cited higher rates of onboarding and offboarding as one of the top challenges their companies are experiencing in response to labor shortages, and they named disrupted workflows as a consequence of those challenges.

Automation can make operations across the business more effective, from IT to the likes of finance and HR. This helps employees to manage the increasing operational demand with limited capacity. Our research also found a total of 86% of executives surveyed believe automation will enable their employees to focus on more creative work and spend less time on mundane, repetitive, time-consuming tasks. If it is not already, this highlights exactly why automation tools must be at the top of any CIO’s priority investment list.

How employee experience helps retain top talent 

In addition to labour shortages, 74% of surveyed executives admitted to struggling to attract new talent to take on necessary tasks. Expanding access to automation and offering the accompanying training opportunities can be a major value add to both existing workers and prospects. In fact, 85% believe automation will help them retain employees and hire new talent amid the Great Resignation.

Recent research found that roughly 86% of employees say that job training is important to them — and nearly three out of every four (74%) are willing to learn things outside of work hours to improve their job performance. CIOs must be aware that by reinforcing their investments in automation and offering employees training opportunities to maximise the technology’s potential, they can both effectively combat current labour shortages and prepare their employees for the future of work.

Accelerating digital solutions delivery

IT is both a fulcrum and a bottleneck, taking on critical software development, but never having enough developers to deal with all of the ideas from across the business. Automation not only helps in streamlining operations but also expedites the development activities of the IT department. It not only serves the business demand in a timely fashion without increasing backlog, but it also helps in delivering digital solutions faster which further transforms new business models and generates more revenue for the organisation.

The low-code automation platform also democratises the development process and makes it easier for employees to implement their automation ideas, without necessarily needing formal training in coding or other technical skills. This frees up availability for the IT teams to tackle bigger issues that truly require developers’ expertise. They don’t have to devote sprints to task automations, that, while helpful, are not the end-to-end processes most CIOs crave automating. When the entire organisation is equipped with a low-code platform, CIOs can prioritise the IT department’s valuable time on features that will propel the business.

Tackling macroeconomic challenges head on

The role of a CIO is undoubtedly more highly pressured than ever before – and with that comes a constant need to prove the value of technology investments made within their company. Fortunately, technology, and more specifically automation, plays a key role helping businesses tackle the macroeconomic difficulties businesses are currently facing, as well as the Great Resignation and labour shortage. The best talent can be both attracted and retained with the promise of being upskilled in automation. A CIO’s priorities revolve around balancing operational excellence, improving customer and employee experience and accelerating a digital growth – and automation can help achieve these priorities simultaneously.

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