3 Non-IT Use Cases Every CIO Should Promote to Jump-Start Business Innovation

Posted by on March 11, 2020

Jump-Start Business Innovation

The role of the CIO is changing rapidly in the digital era. CIOs are being compelled to transition from IT leader to business leader, a shift that requires more business acumen and customer focus than ever before. But most executive IT leaders struggle with the questions of where to start, and how to avoid getting bogged down in an endless cycle of long-term strategic planning—at the expense of taking concrete, tangible steps that move the business forward. 

With this in mind, here are three practical business use cases that CIOs can introduce—here and now—to drive additional business value in their organizations and elevate their strategic role within the enterprise:

  • Integrated Employee Onboarding

  • Shared Services Portal

  • Vertical Process Automation

Use Case #1: Integrated Employee Onboarding

Value to Business: Employee Experience, Employee Productivity, Business Efficiency

Employee experience, which differs from (but is closely linked to) employee engagement, begins the moment the employee accepts an offer for employment and includes all meaningful interactions throughout their tenure at the company. As in life, first impressions matter when onboarding a new employee. This experience can either be manual, slow, time-consuming, and, ultimately, stifle productivity right out of the gate—or an opportunity to motivate, automate, collaborate, and drive engagement from the very first moment. 

While employee onboarding may be viewed as an “HR thing” and potentially even initiated from an HR system, IT and a host of other departments play vital roles in this cross-functional process. You can even make the case that IT plays the most important role. Think about day one as a new employee; what is more impactful on productivity than technology? Receiving a laptop, obtaining access to the right systems, and getting a mobile device configured for email and calendar potentially hold the greatest impact on the employee onboarding experience—and equally importantly, productivity.

How Can IT Improve the Experience?  

One Colorado company, a digital marketplace that connects consumers with service professionals, had a huge challenge onboarding thousands of providers each year. The process took about three weeks, with hundreds of manual steps and tasks. They stepped back to map out the process and looked for a single service management solution that could help them automate this process, along with other cross-functional workflows. After just a few weeks, they went from an average onboarding time of three weeks to just three hours, with most tasks completely automated, including integrations to several departmental systems across HR, IT, facilities, security and more. 

Use Case #2: Shared Services Portal

Value to Business: Self-Service, Employee Experience, Employee Productivity, KPI Visibility

Information workers spend approximately 20 percent of their time looking for the information they need to get their job done. A shared services portal designed and implemented with employees in mind can recoup much of that wasted time. Most organizations try to check this box with an intranet site that offers a  loose collection of departmental pages with static information and perhaps a few useful links or downloads. There are several challenges with this approach, including lack of consistency, poor search, multiple locations and portals, poor design/UX, and lack of automation. For many companies, this is merely a facade of a useful service, but really adds to the confusion, frustration, and loss of productivity that employees struggle with each day.

A shared services portal can have profound impacts on employees’ self-service experience, thereby improving their productivity and eliminating repetitive, low-value manual tasks for service providers across the organization. Most successful portals build on successful patterns from IT Service Management such as a service catalog and structured knowledge base. In addition, they use powerful search, workflow automation, service categorization, and request routing to digitize the experience from end to end. In the end, one hugely overlooked value is the visibility it can give the enterprise into meaningful KPIs and metrics, so they can continuously improve service levels and employee experience. 

How Can IT Improve the Experience? 

A leading global manufacturer in the Northeastern US had a vision to build on their successful IT service management (ITSM)  practice and extend their services portal and automation across their business. They formed a new Shared Services group made up of IT and business experts from around the company. They used their service management platform to build a robust service catalog and knowledge base that allowed them to design and deploy services from IT, HR, facilities, finance and many other departments. Employees now have a single location to search for, find, and request services from different lines of business. By consolidating service request and fulfillment into a  single platform, they can track each request, no matter where it is routed, view resolution stats and self-service metrics, and measure the impact on employee experience.

Use Case #3: Vertical Process Automation

Value to Business: Innovation, Employee Productivity, Customer Experience

OK, I actually made up this term, but it is intended to capture the concept that every business, yours included, has vital processes that are specific to your industry, geography, or market segment. Today, many of these are manual and time-consuming, lack any tracking, sap productivity, and may even hurt customer experience. Many of these probably quickly come to mind. So, how can you provide support to the business in giving them the tools to come to their own rescue?

An emerging technology market, called “low code,” is growing at an astounding pace. Gartner, Forrester, and other industry analysts have varying terminology for this segment, but all agree that by 2023 the majority of all software developed within the enterprise will be created on a low-code platform and that most orgs will have, on average, four different low-code platforms. The promise is simple: Many employees within your organization (referred to as “citizen developers”) will be able to develop their own applications to automate workflows and processes—they won’t need to come to IT to do it. 

And guess what? You likely already have one or more of these low-code platforms deployed in-house right now. The low-code segment is made up of service management platforms, CRM platforms, BPM solutions, and rapid application development platforms. Each solution has different strengths and weaknesses, one of which is the important distinction between “no-code” and “low-code.” No-code tools are designed with non-pro developers in mind and require no formal programming knowledge—a huge advantage when it comes to automating vertical business processes across the org.

Customer Examples 

Here is where I have a broad range of examples (facilitated by Cherwell’s no-code service management platform) to share:

  • State and Local Government: 

    • Ballot/voting machine chain of custody applications - ensures that every machine and system used in voting is tracked to ensure no tampering

    • Pothole management system - allows citizens to report potholes and cities to manage the process of getting them fixed in a timely manner

  • Healthcare:

    • Medical device management - a system to manage any and all devices, including maintenance schedules, locations, etc.

    • Patient transfer app - automates the process of tracking patient transfers from one hospital to another

  • Higher Education:

    • Parking management app - makes campus parking a much more pleasant experience for students and faculty

    • Lecture and classroom management - tracks which rooms have what equipment and are being used at what times and allow for simple scheduling


I hope that these use cases and examples have informed and inspired you to move beyond IT “business as usual” to taking steps to innovate and automate across your enterprise. If you can capitalize on some of these more straightforward (yet still highly impactful) use cases, you’ll demonstrate that IT is not only capable of, but in fact ideal for leading digital initiatives that have the potential to completely transform employee experience—which, in turn leads to a better customer experience and superior business outcomes. 

Each of these use cases have been implemented by Cherwell customers, producing meaningful business results. For analyst reviews of Cherwell and other market-leading enterprise service management (ESM) platforms, check out our CIO toolkit for evaluating ESM tools. 

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