What Should the C-Suite Ask Santa for This Christmas?

Santa reading the business news

It’s that time of year when the C-Suite can ask Santa for a little bit of extra help. But what should they be asking for this year?

Have you been naughty or nice in 2018? Well, it’s that time of year when the Big Yin has finished checking his list (and, of course, checking it twice). Assuming your not destined to be greeted by a lump of coal under your Christmas tree on the 25th, what exactly should you be asking Santa for this festive season? Here are a few ideas for the C-Suite:

Chief financial officers

financial dataAndrew Hicks, CFO at Advanced

“CFOs should ask for big data to provide them with a more in-depth picture of their customers and providers. Modern CFOs need to be able to anticipate future needs, enabling the use of non-financial data for reporting and predicting potential future requirements, and ensuring the organisation is agile enough to respond. They will create honed forecast sensitivity models to scenario plan and ensure, worse case, any changes do not interrupt the ability to operate (cash flow/debt covenants etc).”

Dean McGlone, director at V1

“CFOs will ask for Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to relieve their teams from mundane and repetitive work to focus on higher-value and strategic activities. One very simple example is the Accounts Payable (AP) function. The responsibility here is to get invoices in, processed and ensure they get paid at the right time. With a combination of the right technology, and with Artificial Intelligence handling decisions and chatbots managing customer queries, CFOs could see completely unmanned AP is achievable by 2020 as a result of invoice automation.”

Chief marketing officers

Carrie Pairman, marketing manager, Brightsolid

“Ask any marketing manager what’s top of their list from Santa you’re more than likely to hear a resounding ‘We’re going to need a bigger budget’ (and more months in the year!). Let’s be honest, a budget synonymous to Apple’s is as likely as Santa pulling a sicky on the busiest night of the year, so let’s keep it real. As a B2B Marketer, all I want for Christmas is an accurate and complete view of our customers (both naughty and nice) and the ability to leverage this data to create more personalised experiences. After all, quality data is the gift that keeps on giving.”

Morgan Norman, CMO at Copper (formerly Prosperworks)

customer satisfaction“With businesses facing an even tougher climate in 2019, marketing managers would be wise to add automated marketing tools that enable more efficient working and greater collaboration to their Christmas list.

“Research has shown that sales and marketing professionals spend on average a shocking 30% of their entire week on CRM-related admin. But why? Relationships with customers and prospects are weaker than a decade ago and errors still occur (the average sales and marketing pro loses 20 sales per year because of CRM errors).

“The reality is that many of the traditional tools us marketers use, especially CRM software, aren’t working for us in their current form. Modern marketing tools that eliminate admin and errors through automation are a proven alternative and the only way forward for long-term efficiency and collaboration. Think of them as that functional gift you unwrap on Christmas day: sure, they may not be the shiny new toy, but they’re the essential staple you desperately needed and will be ever grateful for having.”

Chief information officers

Dean Durrant, managing consultant: change, IT & financial services at HRC Recruitment

“In October 2018’s Budget, the Chancellor announced that IR35 legislation would be extended to the private sector in April 2020 – it currently only applies to the public sector. In a nutshell, the legislation is designed to prevent tax avoidance by workers employed as contractors, but who should actually be considered full-times employees.

“The legislation will have a big impact on IT professionals – a significant proportion are employed as contractors. However, the changes will only apply to larger organisations – SMEs are exempt. This is just one of a number of points which will need clarification in the just over a year we have until April 2020 – at what points does a business become large?  While there are details being ironed out, IT managers who employ contractors may still want to ask Santa for some meat on the bone of the IR35 changes and give themselves plenty of time to prepare.”

Stuart MacCallum, principal remote Sensing Specialist, GSI

“We’ve recently been approached by a very special client to provide a global map of chimneys and landing spots for overladen sleighs. We’re used to handling big data, but this challenge is a bit beyond our current resources, so this year we’ll be asking Santa for a ‘ho ho ho’ performance computing system with the latest artificial elftelligence algorithms. With these, we’ll to be able to assist our client in providing an excellent gift delivery service all over the world. We’re also hoping for a new year of peaceful earth observation and goodwill from AI.”

workplace trainingMark Dewell, managing director – Private, Public and Third Sector – Advanced

“IT managers should ask for the C-suite to come together to drive technology change. 2019 will be the year that responsibility for technology change lies in partnerships – across the leadership team and with the business leader. The Chief Technology Officer (CTO) may be responsible for connecting technology to ensure it provides data-driven business insight and a smooth digital transformation path but the CEO, or HR Director, must drive a change in culture.

“This means encouraging an open and collaborative culture that embraces and maximises new digital tools and ways of working. It also requires the skilling up and training of employees for their new higher value roles as they work alongside automation. Essentially it means developing, communicating and driving ahead with the new reimagined company vision, causing a ripple effect of necessary changes that the transformed company will rely on to succeed in the future.”

Steve Blow, technology evangelist, Zerto

“Surely the main thing every IT manager wants on their Christmas list is the ability to recover from any kind of downtime instantly – without customers even realising anything has occurred, and with no data being lost. In 2018, it became clear that current backup solutions are no longer fit for purpose, with nearly half of all businesses experiencing an unrecoverable data event in the last three years

“And, as ransomware attacks in particular will more than likely grow in 2019, IT managers need to focus on enabling an ‘always on’ business – weathering the disruption and getting back online within seconds without the data loss. With this sort of reliable data availability, IT managers can finally enjoy a Christmas break and let concerns about ransomware and security threats take a back seat in the New Year to a more positive focus on proactive cybersecurity and preparing for whatever the next threat on the horizon may be. With Santa’s sack full of resilient gifts, eliminating these concerns will be more than merely a Christmas miracle.”

John Morrison, VP EMEA sales and services, Extreme Networks

“IT managers should definitely be asking for an agile data centre this Christmas. The data centre is at the core of a business’s network and the engine that adopts new cloud applications and business capabilities. 2018 saw the traditional data centre fall out of fashion as it simply doesn’t have the ability to keep up with emerging technologies such as AI and machine learning. A robust, agile data centre allows pervasive network visibility and integrated, cross-domain automation. This not only meets the interim need for business agility, but also enables IT managers to further drive the digital transformation of their businesses.”

Andy Mack, software services director at Echo Managed Services, creator of multi-utility billing software, Aptumo.

“Today’s CIO needs to be the centrepiece in delivering innovation and added-value to any organisation. However, the systems and software required to deliver true business transformation can be hard to find. Easy integration, great usability and client-led empowered change are at the top of the shopping list, but, despite emerging technologies and an array of potential solutions available, this continues to be a headache. Software that grows with the business’s ideas and enables – not hinders – innovation is therefore what CIOs should ask for this Christmas.”

Richard Stevenson, CEO, of Red Box

voice data“CIOs should be asking for their businesses to embrace a ‘voice first strategy’. More than three quarters CIOs believe that such a strategy will be in place within five years, showing a clear shift towards recognising the value of the spoken word, and almost all (95%) C-level executives regard voice data as ‘valuable’ or ‘very valuable’ to their organisation.

“Voice data is crucial to the compliance and customer service strategies of many organisations both inside and outside the financial services sector, as well as having many other uses. Voice is a critical data set for the digital transformation of the enterprise. It holds much more value than any other means of communication because it conveys context, sentiment, intent, emotion and actions, providing real intelligence and driving valuable business outcomes. Voice data sets can provide a much richer view of the customer, enabling a more personalised approach to the customer journey based on sentiment analysis, intent and predictive behaviours.”

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