Guest Column | March 27, 2017

How CIOs Land Starring Roles In Digital Transformation

Bhaskar Sambasivan, SVP and Global Head of Life Sciences, Cognizant

By Bhaskar Sambasivan, SVP and Global Head of Life Sciences, Cognizant

Healthcare organizations are focused on delivering high quality, high value experiences to its stakeholders. With the industry focus on patients at the center of care, there is an increasing need for digitizing the care continuum to ensure patients are getting the best treatment at all times. From launching applications that remind patients to take their medicines, to deploying software bots that automate backend administrative processes, technology is increasingly woven into the delivery and management of care.

In this new paradigm, healthcare and life sciences CIOs are expected to be transformational change agents, helping their organizations “Shift to Digital.” Given that CIOs understand how the organization’s systems and processes are interconnected, they are in the best position to help their organization make this shift. As a result, they can adopt these three strategies to take on leading roles in their organizations’ digital journeys.

  1. Become The Key Influencer For All Things Digital

    The CIO must lead the vision for what digital can enable. Digital needs to be at the center of how CIOs think about delivering solutions and enabling the best experience for customers, patients, and all participants in the health and life sciences ecosystem.

    Furthermore, the CIO should become directly engaged and embedded in key digital initiatives, advising and serving as an influencer through a digital advisory board or innovation center. This may include a wide range of activities including recommending new solutions and technologies, as well as making holistic changes to underlying processes that refresh existing ways of working and advance the organization’s patient-first agenda. In particular, the CIO can help prevent an initiative from being more than just digital window dressing on top of inefficient existing processes. As a result, this helps ensure a seamless experience across multiple channels and groups.
  2. Ensure The IT Organization Becomes Digitally Mature

    CIOs must ensure their IT organization can accelerate the organization’s digital initiatives by integrating new technologies with existing systems and workflows. In particular, the IT organization must gain maturity — bringing in design thinking and focusing on user experiences. A few CIOs are now hiring behavioral scientists, anthropologists, and design thinkers to bring new insights about how people and technology interact to support business.

    The CIO should explore leveraging digital technologies and services such as cloud, automation, IOT, and predictive analytics to the legacy IT portfolio, as well to drive efficiencies and agility. Security is a key area of focus for many CIOs to enable safe and secure data sharing, while ensuring no negative impact on the user experience. As new initiatives are being planned, digital’s “fail-fast” credo must be enforced vs. IT’s traditional go-slow approach.
  3. Build Relationships To Bring The Organization Together On Digital

    The CIO must take a leading role in the development, commercialization, and integration of digital initiatives, even those that originate elsewhere in the organization. With many initiatives driven and funded by marketing, it’s important for CIOs to have productive relationships with their organization’s chief marketing executive. Business leaders are constantly looking for CIO expertise and perspectives on how the organization can benefit from “Being Digital.” The CIO is best positioned to be a co-leader in key digital initiatives. This will require CIOs to network more and build new relationships with internal and stake holders in a very different way.

The CIO particularly must be at the forefront of efforts to deliver great experiences to a number of key stakeholders — sales reps, patients, clinical trial investigators, physicians, and regulatory agencies — working closely with the CMOs, CDOs and other business leaders in the organization as well as external partners.