CIO as a Conductor: Train vs Orchestra

Phil Komarny
May 31 · 3 min read

In May of 2018 Salesforce completed its largest acquisition to date when they acquired MuleSoft. The enterprise integration company and their ‘connect anything, change everything’ mantra has provided Salesforce customers a new tool in their digital transformation tool box.

This integration-first approach has changed the way any organization purchases and integrates technology in service of their customer.

Historically the organization’s technological lead has owned the role that ‘Information Technology’, or IT, has played. In today’s hyper-speed, digital world this siloed thinking limits the organizations ability to craft the transformational experience their customers expect today. Successful strategies are visioned across data silos by a cross functional team of business leaders that always think ‘customer first’. Removing IT from an organizations vocabulary and replacing it with BT, or Business Technology, helps reframe the importance of this through every facet of the organization’s strategy.

The role of conducting the enterprise technological strategy once felt like conducting a train, today it should feel more like conducting an orchestra.

Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla is the music director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra — Image Credit: Benjamin Ealoverga 2016

When enterprise systems of record are delivered by a vendor the CIO is relegated to being the conductor of a train. A train and rails delivered by the vendor, the only control the CIO has is how fast or slow it goes and if/when it arrives at its stations. There is very little chance at innovation, not to mention a chance at crafting a strategic digital transformation. At its core a ‘vendor led strategy’ also limits the business ability to be agile in this volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world.

By taking an integration-first approach and leveraging CRM in support of a customer’s profile the CIO is now the conductor of a grand orchestra that can make magical music for its customers. It also provides an unbounded strategic space for the business leaders to vision that customer centered experience. CIO’s are taking this opportunity to become an integral part of the business operation by helping translate the ‘technical’ into ‘tangible’ strategic benefits. Once their voices were filtered by finance or operations leads. Now these digital value translators have voices that emanate from a strategic level helping drive transformation and better serve their customers.

This approach also ‘future proofs’ the strategy due to the ability to think integration first. With technology emerging at the pace that it is the ability to think freely might be the biggest value of this strategy. For instance, this week at Salesforce’s TrailheaDX developers conference there were a few product announcements, one involved the magical Blockchain. One reason this over-hyped technology has yet to see its true value realized is due to the complexity of investigating and implementing it. True to Salesforce’s inclusive mantra, the Salesforce Blockchain can be implemented with no code. Let that sink in for a moment…

With a few clicks you can investigate completely new business models, on trusted data, that can be used in a consented and ethical way.

That’s an all new instrument for the orchestra, one that is unlike the rest and has been hard to integrate and understand… until now.

Any CIO that has taken a platform approach and is ‘integration ready’ has a distinct advantage to drive new ways for the business to make music for their customers. I for one look forward to hearing this new music!

Conduct away!

Phil Komarny

Written by

VP, Innovation @Salesforce — Who Dares Wins

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