CIO’s: At the forefront of innovation and strategy in organizations
SAN JUAN – Over the past 20 years, the role of systems engineers has evolved significantly in organizations. Today, the so-called CIOs (Chief Information Officer) have grown from solving infrastructure or systems problems to leading digital transformation strategies in companies, especially in the response that companies have had to structure to adapt to the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic around the world.
From developing new applications or more complex projects so that companies could move to the remote model, to designing new ways to improve the experience for consumers or users, CIO’s have become the leaders of change, anticipating new trends and adopting resilient models to cope with crises or setbacks that may arise. According to figures from the CIO Survey report carried out by the consulting firm KPMG, in 2019 the investment of industries for technology was the highest so far, especially for emerging technologies. More than 50% of IT leaders surveyed reported budget increases of 49% to 55%, demonstrating the importance of their role in running businesses and their leadership in driving them into the future.
According to Luis Marrero, Oracle’s Manager for the Caribbean, “engineers have become, to a great extent, those responsible for leading the digital transformation strategies of their organizations. The CIO’s, or CTO’s, or Technology Directors, are those who are bringing the new vision of business, interpreting new needs and providing solutions in a context of a digital economy. They must manage disruption for the benefit of their companies and be focused on making it more agile and dynamic to innovate and grow, while responding to the diverse needs and demands of the organization.
Oracle presents the stories and experiences of various professionals behind some companies and institutions in the Puerto Rico.
For Ramón Vázquez, who has been leading the technology team of Grupo Colón Gerena in Puerto Rico for five years, technology has never been a foreign matter. Vázquez remembers that since childhood he was always fortunate to have a computer in his hands with which he could experiment, code, but, above all, let his imagination fly. He says that in those same years he took advantage of the holidays to spend long hours in his father’s office, from whom he learned the art of business and where he could see first-hand the impact of technology in companies: “I related to the CTO of the company where my father worked and he helped me see how all these pieces fit into the company’s strategy.”
For this reason, when the time came, he chose the Computer Engineering career with the certainty that “I always knew that technology would be very important for companies.” That is why he complemented his engineering training with a master’s degree in Business Administration. And he assures these opportunities “allowed me to understand precisely that technology infiltrates all aspects of the business and in the relationship with consumers.”
Thus, he says, he began his work experience first in the warehousing, distribution and banking industries; and later became the leader of the technology group of Grupo Colón Gerena, a company recognized mainly for its portion of the business dedicated to fast food restaurants (QSRs), but which also operates in the construction and real estate segments.
There, as he confesses, the work has been agile and innovative because of the vision of the company executives on the impact technology has to improve the business metrics. “The executive team has given me the openness to turn the Group into a model of transformation and innovation, dedicating investments in important platforms and programs that have helped the company to achieve multiple efficiencies at various levels.” As an example of these developments, this young executive highlights the agility to transform the processes that were necessary after the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic throughout the world, achieving in record time moving from face-to-face operations to remote work, maintaining the ability to work and the level of service for their clients. This, thanks to the different technological allies including Oracle, which is now the company’s partner for cloud services: “In less than two days we were able to structure our remote work operation, thanks to the tools the cloud enables for us, making the whole process transparent for our customers and business partners.”
Thus, for this restless engineer, “understanding the needs of the other departments of the company is crucial to be able to use the appropriate technology solutions and tools that best help achieve the business goals.”
Encouraged by the great challenges that technology presented in his formative days, Jimmy Campoverde, in command of Claro Puerto Rico’s information systems division, chose his career in this field to find solutions to these complex problems: “In my house, there was no computer, there were not many resources, which made it more difficult to satisfy my curiosity and interest in the subject, so I had to find borrowed equipment to develop, learn and understand how technology would help me generate ideas for the problems I had my country at that time.”
To their surprise, the evolution of technology occurred much faster than anyone could have projected 20 years ago, moving from numerical programming to the development of systems based on human language. Because, as he says, “programming today has become much easier, and this industry movement has caused professionals to become increasingly interested in entering this fascinating world.”
Thus, he became a systems engineer capable of constantly transforming himself and putting all his knowledge at the service of companies to take them to another level with a better use of technology because “today, technology has to be at the service of the business strategy.” He says with conviction that success is linked to how involved the end user and their experience feel in the service through technology: “You have to work with the customer. If the user experience is not put in the process, the applications will not work.”
His experience at Claro has been a model of constant movement and evolution to adapt to the times. He assures that Claro is always in search of solutions and ideas to facilitate the service to all its clients, also considering generational differences and the preferences of each sector of the population. He emphasizes that “the challenge is to match or exceed the experience of a personal transaction to a digital one. In other words, the humanization of non-contact transactions.”
Referring to the impact of the pandemic, the company was able to make the necessary adjustments to continue serving its customers and allies, while keeping the secure handling of data a priority after opening to remote work. And he assured that he works with important technological allies to promote his digital strategy. Oracle has been one of them, “assisting us together with other technologies to effectively migrate to this new dynamic of employees working from home and making customers feel more comfortable and confident carrying out transactions that they did in person before the pandemic.”