It can be all too easy for the person with the CIO job to spend their time sitting around thinking about the future. We all know about things like big data, cloud computing, etc. These are new and novel things now, we assume that in the future they will be more run-of-the-mill. However, that’s off in the future and we can worry about it then. The bad news is that the future is racing towards us right now. Are you going to be ready when it shows up?
The Future Does Not Look Like Today
As CIOs we have been there in the past as the importance of information technology became more and more apparent to the rest of the company. We’ve lived through the implementation (and upgrades!) of the big enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, the arrival of larger and larger databases, and the explosion of servers under our care. What the world of IT looks like today is nothing like what it used to look like.
Originally, IT was the part of the company that was responsible for two basic types of systems. The first of these kept records. Records of everything: employees, customers, purchases, suppliers, etc. The second set of systems permitted a company to interact with both employees and customers. When these systems first started to show up, how a company performed these tasks underwent a wholesale change. Now the way that this sort of interaction occurs is preparing to undergo yet another change.
The systems that we are currently using wait for the employee or customer to tell them what to do and then they go off and do it. This is going to change. In the not so distant future, these systems are going to get better at predicting what an employee or a customer is going to want to do. Then, even before the user can request it, the system will be providing valuable information to them.
The Future May Have Already Arrived
Although it can be difficult to predict just exactly what the future holds for the IT department, the person in the CIO position needs to be spending the time trying to determine just what technologies they are going to have to be dealing with. No, not all of today’s “hot” technologies are going to end up having an impact on the world of IT, but we need to be able to pick out the ones that will. Right now it is starting to look like two likely candidates may be artificial intelligence and machine learning.
These two types of technologies hold the promise of transforming how our IT systems behave. Specifically, a company’s systems are soon going to be equipped to reason in different ways. This opens a number of exciting possibilities for companies. As the CIO you are going to have to take a careful look at this new capability and make some decisions about how you want to go about using it.
A case in point is the recent news in which an artificial intelligence program was for the first time able to beat some of the top poker players in the world. Outside of being an amusing stunt, this event should be sending a clear message to the world of CIOs. What this shows us is that artificial intelligence has now evolved to a point where it can make decisions based on incomplete information. It also has the ability to deal with such poker tactics as bluffing and misinformation. These are now skills that can be applied to business problems.
What All Of This Means For You
Change is something that every CIO has to be ready to deal with. All too often we can look at the set of technologies that are viewed as being “new” and decide to not worry about them because they have not arrived yet. However, this would be a mistake. Many of those technologies are going to be here sooner rather than later and we need to be ready for them when they show up.
We can remember the arrival of a number of technologies that were once upon a time considered to be new which have since then become mainstream. IT systems used to be charged with just keeping records and interacting with employees and customers. However, new predictive capabilities have started to change how that interaction is being performed. The impending arrival of artificial intelligence and machine learning is set to change the way that our IT systems operate and how we go about using them.
In order to be a successful CIO, you need to become proactive. You need to take a look at the new technologies that are only now starting to become available and you need to determine which ones may have the biggest impact on your business. Once you’ve made this determination, start to implement these technologies and make sure that you stay ahead of the curve so that you can start to focus on whatever will be coming next!
Question For You: Do you think that you need to create a separate team to implement artificial intelligence in your IT department?
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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
As the person with the CIO job, you by necessity meet a lot of people. Many of these people work for you and so it’s important that you remember who they are. Just because it’s important does not make this any easier to do. We have all developed a coping mechanism for dealing with this challenge: when we meet someone, we put them in a box.