“The CIO is the conductor of Digitalization” – Marc Besson, Visilab SA, #TopCIO 2015

by Michael Ghezzo

Marc Besson sees a change in the role of the CIO and likes the idea of transforming the Chief Information Officer into Chief Innovation Officer. That is why the jury sees him as a favorite in the race for the SWISS CIO AWARD 2015.

Digitalization changes business and enterprises. How does this affect your company?

Digitalization of glasses is not yet a key challenge for us despite the launch of innovative products such as Google Glass. The key challenge for us is the digitalization of our customer relationship process and integrating physical retail chains into a digital world. We are converting our company to an integrated omni-channel approach but will need time to adapt out technology to it and train people to use it.

What is the role of the CIO in this?

The CIO plays a key role in this process, not only by ensuring that all technology resources and processes are aligned and ready but also in supporting the transformation of the company through innovative ideas and expertise in large projects.

We will soon deploy an entirely new customer experience on our website and our shops. As part of it we are for example currently conducting a pilot in a few stores: an augmented reality mirror which enables you to fit a large range of frame glasses that we do not physically have in store.

The 3 most important abilities of a Top-CIO?

A top CIO today should have many abilities that belie CIOs’ traditional image as “technology plumbers.” More and more, technology and innovation are at the core of companies and the CIO should be able to take a strategic position to drive the digital transformation. This means he or she should:

Understand complex business problems in a digital transformation and propose innovative solutions

         Display agile thinking and action, not only methodology

         Develop talented, high-performance teams to realize and operate projects

What is the role of the CIO concerning Innovation?

Innovation is key to the development of the company and the CIO must infuse technology into the company strategy.

At the end, we must ask ourselves, ‘Are we still Chief Information Officer or already Chief Innovation Officer?’

What are the CIO’s perspectives on consumerization and the cloud?

While maintaining the security of the information system we need to bring the appropriate tools for our young employees. For example, since their average age is below 30, we foresee to get rid of our traditional intranet in favor of a corporate social network.

Cloud computing presents two serious challenges: identifying the right partner and redesigning our governance frameworks.

But despite the fast adoption of consumerization and cloud computing, the role of the CIO remains like that of a conductor; we need to identify the right score (technology), the right orchestra (staff) and make sure they play in harmony.

What is the importance of the CIO AWARD for you?

I see the 2015 CIO as an innovation enabler. For me, that means proposing new solutions to support business or new ways of doing business, driving my team to be creative and using forward-looking technologies. Receiving such an award would be an honor for my team and me, but also recognition of the key role played by IT in the Swiss SME landscape.

The SWISS CIO AWARD will be celebrated at the 4. Conare Swiss CIO SUMMIT on Sept. 24that the Kameha Grand in Zurich – Registration for IT-Managers is free of charge. www.ciosummit.ch

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