What technology manufacturing CIOs can do to enable a proactive, safe shift from product- to purpose-centric solutions

Mark BrownMark Brown, Executive Director EY, Cyber Security & Resilience

With the increasing demand in the technology manufacturing sector for customized components for user-centric products that are both data driven and secure, many component providers are starting to offer more value to customers, eventually helping to increase their own bottom-line growth by delivering purpose-centric solutions.

Caterpillar and Parker Hannifin are just two examples of companies that, with their components and purpose-centric offerings, enable the manufacture of equipment that provides up-to-the-minute communications, agricultural management information, state-of-the-art medical procedures or space exploration.

For these technology manufacturers the recent shift from delivering stand-alone components and products to information-rich solutions represents a strategic business opportunity. As such they are often willing to make hefty investments into their IT infrastructure to enable experimentation and innovation to improve their products and diversify their range of services.

But at the same time these companies have to prioritize the quality and security of their components. The security approach they use should, therefore, be capable of gathering and analyzing data for continuous improvement and dynamic support throughout the life cycle of the end product.

Know your added value and get the C-suite to listen

For technology manufacturers, IT has always played an important role in product development and innovation. In many instances, however, the CIO in those businesses still operates in a vacuum, taking care only of internal IT issues. Many organizations fail to understand how CIOs could positively impact product development and business operations. Hence, for CIOs in this sector, there is an opportunity to show their value-add and influence the company value chain positively, driving forward truly business-focused goals:

  1. Security of the delivered end-point solutions is one of the challenges faced by this sector. This, in turn, demands comprehensive security provisions to ensure the quality of the ultimate end product is not impacted. The CIO can enable this by aggregating IT alongside other aspects of the business, to align technology requirements and knowledge and thereby promote growth in these organizations.
  2. The language of the CIO must change from one of “provision” to “enablement” and from “compliance” to being more “outreach focused”. CIOs should try to explain to the CFO how they can grow the business; to the COO how they can impact operations; to the CMO how they improve engagement with customers; and to the head of internal audit how they impact risk management. They can do so by focusing more on the consequence, impact and benefits these new technologies will have on the business’ overall processes, and analyze how these new technologies enable new business opportunities and transform the company’s value chain.
  3. Lastly, to secure the transition to a solution-focused approach, the CIO can advise on and oversee the necessary IT infrastructure and satisfy all of the organization’s IT and security-related requirements, so that business leaders can focus on customer engagement without worrying about technology.

For CIOs, this is an opportunity to shine by showing the business and the rest of the C-suite the positive impact they can have on their operations and the business’ value chain. When synergy can be developed to combine IT and the security of solutions, CIOs can support the business better by allowing the other functions to focus on the research and development of new products, as well as on the manufacturing of operationally secure products.

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