With experts forecasting that demand for the Chief Innovation Officer (CIO) is rising, and businesses fighting to fill the position to get ahead, we asked 3 CIOs what makes this recent role so important to the success of every business and why companies should be hiring people just like them.
Meet our CIOs
Hemang Dave, Chief Innovation Officer at IBM North America. An IT Architect at IBM since 2000, Hemang was Team Lead and Manager before becoming CIO of the company’s American headquarters in 2013.
Béatrice de Mahieu, Chief Innovation Officer at Co.Station. Before becoming CIO in 2018, Béatrice contributed to the development and growth strategy of companies like Telenet, Microsoft and ELLE Magazine. She is also an investment expert and entrepreneur.
Hugo Silva, Chief Innovation Officer at PLUX. He is a researcher whose career spans from computer engineering and telecommunications to physiological computing. He co-founded PLUX – Wireless Biosignals in 2007.
In your own words, what is innovation?
Hemang: Innovation is a crucial element for growth and survival for any business. “Innovation” means to make changes or to do something in a new way. Importantly, it should generate growth and value.
Béatrice: Innovation is often referred as a new way to do R&D. It is in a certain way, but innovation goes further. All companies have day-to-day targets on their actual “cash-cow” products, where innovation will help to see further, to prepare for new products but also for new markets.
Why is innovation vital to any business?
Hugo: Similarly to what is known to happen with individuals, companies often fall into a comfort zone that locks them in their state-of-the-art and daily routines. Although this provides a sense of stability, it can severely hinder growth and long-term sustainability.
Hemang: Over the last several decades, invention, product centric and one-dimensional views have turned into innovation which is business outcome centric and multi-dimensional. Innovation should be broad, and not in silos, so that it will have a profound impact on businesses. Essentially, innovation must drive outcomes and generate value.
What makes a great CIO and how can he or she promote innovation within a company?
Hugo: The role of a Chief Innovation Officer is mainly to go off the beaten paths, looking at problems through multiple lenses, thinking differently, exploring new collaborations and identifying disruptive technologies or processes, that can potentially augment a companies’ installed capacities. Key to this activity is the ability to minimise dogmas or pre-conceptions, embracing failure as a common steppingstone to success, and being able to translate the perceived users’ needs into a sound development roadmap.
Béatrice: Synergies and new business models can be found between corporates and startups, but also between two corporates on new (not core) markets, but where potential impact is possible, and this in domains wider than their own industry, for example banks and circular economy, energy provider and security services, retail and industry 4.0.
Hemang: I use innovation to inspire my clients. When approaching innovation, a great CIO thinks about simplicity and not complexity.