Innovation is Bringing Together What's Needed with What's Possible

Andrea Simone, CIO, NBTY
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I believe that the internet of things and wearable sensors would be very important, from a future perspective, in addition to biometrics. These trends would be helpful in gaining insights on people’svital statistics and the importance of vitamins and supplements in your diet. The other trend is the ever-present and frequently discussed “SMAC”, signifying trends taking place with respect to Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud. When I think about technologies that could change the industry’s future, my thoughts are redirected to enterprise Software Vendors and System integrators. Both these vendors and integrators should work hard to facilitate faster and cheaper software implementations, by leveraging more “canned” products. Companies are faced with the constant challenge of shifting the responsibility of these implementations from resources to
others, so as to enable the workforce to pay more attention towards revenue generation and innovation.

The Ideal CIO

In accordance with the evolved role of CIOs, few aspects such as Speed, Agility, Versatility and Co-ordination with the CMO have turned the defining factors. With respect to Speed and Agility, today’s CIO’s need to constantly reinvent their operating and delivery models to become more agile and innovative. A CIO’s need to be able to go deep into the topic of the moment, in the process of being indispensable business partners to their C-suite partners, creates the need for Versatile leaders. It is equally important to establish an interactive role with your CMO, as CIO’s and CMO’s have a shared responsibility to drive digital business innovation within a particular organization.

The shift in responsibilities of a CIO, has paved way for an equally different set of challenges. As a CIO, I give huge importance to Prioritization, as I often encounter the challenge of finding the right candidates in the attempts to leverage the opportunities with fewer resources.

Moreover, it is extremely difficult to locate employees, up-todate with the latest trends and technologies. And, at NBTY, the CIO’s office manages both IT and Business Process Improvement, which are synergistic in driving exceptional changes into the broader organization. I have observed that careful planning and execution are the prerequisites for driving changes into an organization, which is a significant challenge.

Bringing in Innovation

Innovation, according to me, is all about bringing together what’s needed with what’s possible. To get closer to what’s needed, I encourage my organization to stay very close to our business partners, understand the business processes and be “business leaders with IT background” instead of a mere technical person. To be in touch with what’s possible, an enterprise has to be externally focused, join innovation forums and stay up-to-date with other industries.

In order to make this possible, I ask everyone involved in the business space to co-create, join forces in multi-functional teams, focus on the “WHAT” before the “HOW” and leverage lateral thinking. As an example, a food company in India successfully used twitter to address an out of stock issue in a very non-traditional way, by asking their customers to send a tweet when the product they were looking for was out of stock in their favorite store.

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