Luc Barbier and the Ascent team meet Raphaël Hélion of PwC to explore the evolving role of the CIO
The role of the CIO is changing from one of custodian to trailblazer. As well as maintaining the smooth and secure running of IT operations, the CIO is now expected to lead the charge into the digital future, identify opportunities that will help the business to grow and ensure that the business is structured to make the most of those opportunities. It’s a role that has never been more important and a generation of CIOs are grappling to make sense of the challenges.
Raphaël Hélion has been CIO for PwC in France since 2012, responsible for France, Monaco, Morocco and Algeria, and soon to add Tunisia and 10 further territories in French-speaking West Africa to his remit. In addition to that, since February he has been charged with shaping PwC’s information strategy in order to make it a more data-driven organization.
He likes the situation he and other CIOs find themselves in now to the advent of the internet. “The really exciting thing was to see what we could do around sharing information. Today we are in a similar situation: where we have a new set of technologies and we realize that there is huge potential for transformation."
“I realized very quickly that the value is not in the technology, it’s in the usage and the value we can gain. Technology is not the purpose, it’s just something that enables the business.” The demand for innovation is more intense than ever because the competition has intensified. Interestingly, Hélion sees established bluechips’ main competition coming from born-in-the-web startups. He spent a week in Silicon Valley talking to leading born-in-the-web tech firms to learn what makes them innovative, and came back intent on instilling a similar trajectory of exponential innovation at PwC; as he puts it, “10x innovation rather than 10 per cent innovation.” But at the same time he is still responsible for keeping the back door locked.
So how does he balance the so-called two-speed IT demands of operation and innovation?
His solution has been to outsource much of the operational IT, including to Atos, though he prefers the word ‘partner’ to ‘outsource’ because it better reflects the collaborative nature of the relationship. At the same time he is building what he calls his ‘innovation ecosystem’, a collaborative network of digital innovation specialists that includes partners such as Atos, Google and Microsoft, to push forward ideas for developing the business through technology (…) Download the full story below.