Digital alone won't suffice, you need to differentiate : Ingrid-Helen Arnold, Chief Information Officer and Chief Process Officer of German enterprise app
Updated on: 30 Nov 2015
SAP SE's Ingrid-Helen Arnold speaks about trends in technology, the need to have more women in leadership positions, and how digital technologies and changing customer expectations have affected the role of chief information officer
Mumbai:One of the handful of women to serve on the boards of a global technology company, Ingrid-Helen Arnold is chief information officer (CIO) and chief process officer (CPO) of the $21 billion German enterprise application software company, SAP SE. A member of the company's board since May 2014, Arnold began her career in the finance department at Lafarge, Canada, before joining SAP in 1996. In an interview in Mumbai, she spoke about trends in technology, the need to have more women in leadership positions, and how digital technologies and changing customer expectations have affected the role of the CIO. Edited excerpts:
What is your role as CPO?
Technology always serves a business process. It is always outcome-based. Over the last 43 years of the company's existence, processes at SAP are getting very complicated, and this our biggest challenge. Hence, my roles of ensuring process excellence (as CPO) and using technology (as CIO) for the same have a natural meeting point. You start with process design, then you challenge the process, and then you look at redefining the processes. Here's where technology supports business change. For me, the I in the CIO stands for innovation and integration and not so much for information. So when you look at digital transformation, it is very much the enabling core of you company strategy. Hence the difference between the roles of a CPO, CIO and chief strategy officer (CSO) would be more on the execution part.
Digital has dramatically changed the role of the CIO.
It's the biggest effect that you can imagine. Traditionally, the CIO was primarily responsible for keeping the lights on, and making sure that businesses had the tools to just get the job done. Today, it's a completely different endeavour. It's you (the CIO) leading the innovation, you making sure that you tap the potential of every digital strategy of your company. The chief digital officer (CDO) at SAP has a P/L (profit and loss) responsibility and I'm enabling and supporting all of this. A CDO's or CMO's (chief marketing officer) role is complementary to that of a CIO.
At SAP, the biggest disruptor at SAP is cloud, not as a deployment model but as a business model. It has changed the way you design your software, the way you sell your software, and the way you service your customer. In my own capacity, it's also how I as CIO serve our 75,600 employees. There's tremendous need for speed and making your workplace a modern one. Expectations have soared since people have mobile devices, and we have to support that.