The role of the chief information officer (CIO) has undergone change of incremental nature over the past five years, which has only accelerated in these past five months. Holding the keys to drive digital transformation, CIOs have begun to step into roles, which were traditionally outside their purview. The CIOs and the CHROs are shaping organisational issues together now.
Both functions have stepped into a more strategic role over time, and have begun to work in tandem to make the employee experience as great as the customer experience. At a higher level, both the functions are aligned towards the same goal. However, they are usually focussed on different initiatives. Now, they have to work together to create a common framework, with a common plan aligned with the organisation’s needs during this time.
Prashant Khullar, SVP-HR, Max Life Insurance, says that within the organisation, both functions are working in tandem to map the employee experience at the company level. The role of a CHRO is to explain what the organisation and the employees need as the users, and similarly, the role of a CIO is to understand the needs of the CHRO as a customer. “Both are working towards the end user or the customer experience. In the end, it is all about driving greater experience within the company,” explains Khullar.
“The role of the CIO has seen an interesting shift as being the enabler of change for organisations.”
The customer journey is one part of it. The CIO is also playing the role of change driver within the organisation and a lot of it is driven by digitalisation. If we take the example of the sales team within the organisation, there has been a shift towards digital for the function in large numbers, of which everyone is aware. Because of the shift from the traditional to the digital, there is a need to upskill the existing employees in the new way of working or acquire new sets of people who are already equipped with the required skill sets. Digitisation has shifted the priorities with the CIO acting as the trigger and the end-to-end change managed by the CHRO and the CEO.
Aditya Kohli, CHRO, Clix Capital, says, “The role of the CIO has seen an interesting shift as being the enabler of change for organisations.”
The mantra currently may be to get more done with less. In this scenario, the CIO enables the change by making sure more is getting digitised or automated and the CHRO will need to work with the technology leader to ensure that the skills are present to drive the change.
Learning and development
In the area of learning and development as well, the roles of the CIO and the CHRO intertwine. As is well understood, the current era will necessitate a lot of rapid training and reskilling for employees as well as the contingent workforce. Moreover, increase in digital, curated and mobile learning will require a robust learning- management platform, which is only possible with support from IT.
Health and wellbeing
Another major area of focus for organisations has been the health, safety and wellbeing of employees post pandemic. Traditionally, the human resource management system and the employee health and safety application have been two separate areas, with the latter more focussed on accidents and compliance. However, COVID has brought about the need to be more proactive in these areas and a merger of the two.
Over time, as we journey on towards normalcy, the number of contingent workforces across sectors, such as manufacturing, will increase. With the prophesied dawn of the gig workforce across industries, there will be greater need to monitor the health and safety of the on-demand workforce for the good of both the temporary and permanent employees of the organisation.
“Both the CIO and the CHRO work towards the end user or the customer experience. In the end, it is all about driving greater experience within the company.”
In such a situation, people’s health and wellbeing will be important information to capture and record for the overall health management. Attendance-recording systems and preventive health checks at entry points are going to be mandatory. To effectively use this additional data, especially for large organisations, the existing HRMS software will have to be enhanced. Moreover, use of AI and ML will be essential to help organisations take care of their employees in a holistic manner, including health, safety and engagement.
In all these areas, there needs to be a synergy between the CHRO and the CIO to contribute their expertise and work in tandem to drive the organisation’s goals.