5 Revenue Growth Strategies for Future-Focused CIOs
Historically, chief information officers (or CIOs) have been in charge of keeping the lights on and making sure work feels frictionless for employees. They’ve managed uptime and availability, evaluated systems and budgets, and led organizations through digital transformation.
But the role has changed—and continues to change. According to Foundry’s State of the CIO 2023 study, 68% of CIOs say that hitting revenue goals is now a part of their role. Now, CIOs are expected to be one part tech expert, one part operational designer and one part financial advisor.
As CIOs become more of a strategic player for companies at large, they need to develop objectives that go beyond the typical tech playbook; they need to support revenue growth. Here are five strategic ways to do this.
1. Optimize time-to-revenue
CIOs are perfectly positioned to support revenue-generating teams by alleviating the time-consuming, friction-filled aspects of their deals.
Sales growth is like a Formula 1 race. Sales folks are in the driver’s seat, doing the physical work to get over the finish line. But look at the pit crew. They’re changing the tires, adjusting the aerodynamics and tweaking the car as much as possible to increase the driver’s chances of winning.
CIOs and senior IT leaders have the ability to be that kind of support for folks on the frontlines. As you prioritize your initiatives, look at what you can do to impact the bottom line—in other words, look at how you can help both the pre- and post-sales teams close bigger deals faster. Then, optimize the other aspects of your organization to do things like control costs and mitigate risk. As a CIO or senior IT leader, here are some practical moves that help optimize time-to-revenue:
- Digitize post-sale processes: From stacks of forms to rekeying customer information into provisioning and billing systems, manual work slows everyone down. With the right technology, CIOs can increase efficiency in the sales-to-billing process and reduce time to revenue. Reducing days sales outstanding (DSO) helps improve cash flow. Plus, streamlined billing processes lead to stronger customer relationships over time.
- Reinvest back into the business: Operational efficiency from automation can ultimately lead to higher profit margins. Improved cash flow and profit margins help make more cash available for reinvestment and reduce reliance on high-interest financing.
- Avoid costly interest rates: Rising interest rates eat into profit. Streamlining sales processes with time efficiency in mind has the potential to save money on what you owe.
- Free up valuable employees’ time: Less paperwork means more revenue-generating work. When employees don’t spend a quarter of their time on administration, they spend it on making deals and growing the business.
2. Streamline, digitize, automate
CIOs are redefining information management for a new era. It’s all rooted in three principles: streamline, digitize and automate.
Teams need to evaluate every process and workflow they have—no matter how small. It’s not about making a process faster or smoother for your monthly report. It’s about staying agile in a changing marketplace.
When you don’t know what’s coming around the corner, the best strategy is simple: be prepared.
“You have to worry about efficiency because business is cyclical,” said Ron Romano, DocuSign distinguished value consultant. “They’re not efficiencies for the sake of bragging about short process times or a quick turnaround for one part of the business. It’s all interrelated and interdependent.”
CIOs attending the 18th annual McKinsey Technology IT Conference felt the same. They recommend consolidating IT systems and simplifying workflows to build a stronger IT machine that’s:
- Less complex: Cybersecurity remains top-of-mind in CIO circles. Experts are advocating for consolidating IT systems to reduce exposure to cyberattacks—with one CIO explaining how simplifying their systems helped reduce the impact and let them “bounce back” faster when they did experience an attack. Look for platforms that: 1) store information in a centralized management system that controls access with global two-factor authentication, and 2) comply with industry-recognized security standards.
- More responsive: Reducing technology debt and consolidating systems across the company helps businesses react faster to whatever comes their way. In just a few years, companies have seen huge organizational shifts. From the rise of remote work to the introduction of artificial intelligence (AI), teams that can move quickly and respond to new supply shocks will have the upper hand.
- Less pricey: Centralizing your IT systems reduces mid-to-long-term costs. One CIO shared how reducing complexity and merging the application portfolio in their business saw an almost 35% reduction in costs.
3. Seal up value leakage
Companies can lose between 1 and 5% of their operating income if they’re not on top of their contract management and payment follow-up processes. That could add up to millions of dollars.
Value leakage is the difference between the potential value of a contract and the actual value that is realized. Value leakage can happen at any stage in the contract lifecycle—and on either side of the agreement—but the result is the same: lower revenue or higher costs than what was outlined in the contract.
Other places you might find value leaks include:
- Poor quality contracts that rely on copy/paste to add terms
- Improperly stored contracts with terms that are hard to keep track of
- Vendor contracts with quantity-based pricing tiers
- Multiple contracts across the organization with the same vendor, resulting in missed opportunities to negotiate volume price discount
CIOs can help reduce contract value leakage by implementing contract management tools that standardize agreement generation, analyze existing (or new) agreements quickly and connect critical business tools to take action on contract terms. With uniform agreements that are generated from a library of preapproved templates and clauses, contract quality will improve significantly.
4. Extract untapped data
Contracts are like money—you need to store them safely, but they’re more valuable if you can put them to work. Forward-thinking contract management systems save employees time, automate tedious aspects of work and ensure your agreements are iron-clad.
But one crucial factor can turn your organization into an unstoppable force: AI-powered contract analytics. Your team can further minimize leakage by using AI-powered contract analytics tools to analyze large volumes of contracts to uncover opportunities for vendor consolidation or improved terms, including:
- Pricing improvements: Before digitization, your legal team had to manually review hundreds of deals to spot improvement opportunities. For large companies, this meant contracts were reviewed infrequently (at best). Now, you can automate the process and make changes in real-time.
- New efficiencies: If you have a variety of agreements in place with your suppliers, it can be hard to track terms. AI-powered contract analytics tools can scan large volumes of contracts, finds patterns and gives you insights into how to streamline and standardize your agreements.
5. Support sustainability goals
Conversations around sustainability in business have been happening for decades. But it’s only in recent years that it's reached a fever pitch.
McKinsey notes that more investors are moving capital toward companies trying to do their part for the planet. Boards are putting more weight on Environmental Social Governance (ESG) strategies and tying environmental obligations to compensation packages. The message is as clear as clean water: From now on, everyone has to play their part.
CIOs are in a strong position to harness technology to meet sustainability goals.
“Traditionally, sustainability isn’t an area where you’d find CIOs,” said Romano. “But a growing number of companies will only deal with vendors who are environmentally responsible or have a zero-carbon footprint for their data centers.”
You can see the revenue-generating impact of sustainability in the companies and employees that choose you over a less-climate-conscious partner:
- Supply-chain vendors with sustainability contract conditions
- Investment banks that focus on ESG funds
- Talented candidates looking for purpose-led companies
The future of IT is a tug of war. It’s an ongoing battle between those who play it safe by maintaining and optimizing the cloud services they’ve already built—and those who want to trek into the uncharted territory of AI-powered efficiency and innovative revenue generation strategies.
Companies are trying to weigh the cost of being an early adopter versus the risk of being left behind. Modern CIOs and IT leaders are at the helm of these decisions.
Romano sees a clear middle ground. “You [CIOs] should look at it as an iterative process rather than an all-or-nothing proposition,” he said. “Because if that’s the choice, it will be nothing. You’re never going to address all inefficiencies at once.”
Learn more about how you can deliver quantifiable value to your organization by digitizing the contract process in our eBook, How to Measure the Value of E-Signature and this research conducted by Forrester, The Total Economic Impact of DocuSign CLM.