Dec 08 2020

CDW Tech Talk: CDW CTO Says Tech Should Drive Business Outcomes

Sanjay Sood said successful businesses must embrace transformative IT.

While once a resource for various tech projects, corporate IT departments have accelerated their expanding roles as drivers of business outcomes during the pandemic, observed CDW CTO Sanjay Sood in a discussion on Tuesday.

In one of his first public appearances as CTO, Sood addressed a CDW Tech Talk in a session titled “Driving Business Evolution: The Marriage of Technology and Leadership.” Bob Bragdon, CSO senior vice president and worldwide managing director, solicited thoughts from Sood about the role of technology in transforming business.

In response, Sood emphasized the potential for tech to automate simple processes and thus enable human beings to spend more time in substantive work, such as developing strategy.

“Historically, with a lot of traditional companies, IT has been a utility. It’s there to help the business run,” Sood said. But, he added, “machines can do a lot of things more efficiently and faster than humans.”

Devices cannot replace human workers in many cases, but they can make people faster and more intelligent, Sood said. Businesses should explore ways in which tech can automate tasks and provide people with more time to drive business outcomes forward.

Pandemic Accelerated DX for Successful Businesses

In 2020, the pandemic has accelerated business automation, which already was assisting the most successful businesses, Sood said. As people remained indoors during peak months for the novel coronavirus, they shopped online more, driving business to corporations like Amazon, which already possessed a sophisticated digital footprint.

To build similar capacity, organizations must rethink their approach to tech adoption, Sood advised. The biggest obstacle remains finding qualified talent, as programmers and computer scientists will become even more in demand, making qualified hires more and more difficult to identify.

But companies also should beware of technical debt, which can accumulate very quickly, Sood said. As companies tighten their belts, their IT architecture may languish. Organizations must consider how to balance “curating and maintaining a solid technical infrastructure and software platform while trying to innovate quickly because the world is moving so fast,” Sood said.

Finally, companies must overcome inertia, perhaps by implementing new training systems to boost effectiveness and productivity and to offer a means by which to introduce new technologies and processes.

Ideally, businesses would move away from developing projects in silos and instead produce capabilities with multiyear roadmaps, thereby adopting practices from leading software technology companies and applying them to traditional IT organizations. 

The result is a better customer experience thanks to more seamless business transactions. Companies gain higher customer satisfaction with less friction and more transparency through holistic technology development, Sood said.

Companies Must Adopt Disruptive Technology to Automate Processes

In March 2020, businesses across the country “flipped a switch” and sent millions of people to work from home. With that shift, expectations of companies have changed fundamentally, Sood said.

Still, many IT organizations can be risk-averse. Sood said companies could improve their future posture by paying attention to the basics of their IT infrastructure and building a case for wide adoption of disruptive technologies such as data analytics and machine learning.

The goal is to make workers more effective and to increase productivity, Sood said. Companies have valuable data locked away in silos, but machines can efficiently analyze that data and produce transformative insights.

As such, workers could take, say, the 20 percent of their time they spend wrangling with spreadsheets and instead invest that time in data queries to unearth those insights.

Follow BizTech’s full coverage of the event here. Insiders can register for the event here.

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