Publications CIO Masterclass: Tech and Data in the Boardroom 

CIO Masterclass: Tech and Data in the Boardroom 

Share this article

Technology and data have plenty of attention in the boardroom. Organizations are massively seeing the benefits of digitization and also experiencing the pain when they are lagging behind. A record turnout of over sixty senior level executives in the digital business domain underlined the need for knowledge and insight during the recent CIO Masterclass. CZ-CIO Peter Slager acted as guest speaker. 

Chair Fiep Warmerdam introduced the day’s theme Tech and Data in the Boardroom not from her role as a young consultant, but rather as a consumer who is increasingly making digital choices. She was referring in particular to her own and future generations. “When choosing health insurance, a digital card for my phone is an important requirement,” she warned. “Boards must align their decisions of today with the customer needs of today and tomorrow.” 

Digital enterprises
Before Peter Slager explained how, as CIO of health insurer CZ, he puts technology and data on the agenda, Gerard Wijers first outlined the playing field. “In 1991 I did my PhD in IT Strategy and back then it was definitely not a boardroom topic,” said the co-founder of Anderson MacGyver and Nyenrode professor. “By now it is. It’s great to work with our clients to create digital businesses.” 

All organizations, he says, are becoming increasingly digital, regardless of the sector. Although, companies within media, travel and, to a lesser extent, retail are generally further ahead than, say, manufacturing companies and infrastructure builders. Nevertheless, there are similar challenges everywhere, according to Anderson MacGyver’s own Digital Business Monitor. Take the need for scalability, responsiveness and customer focus. Or the pain of excessive costs, too much complexity, scarce talent and poor data quality. 

A holistic view of digitalization addresses multiple aspects, according to the Anderson MacGyver co-founder: “Digitization of the operational backbone, digitalization of the customer and employee experience and being able to innovate and create digital business models. All of this is made possible by underlying enabling technology.” 

Central elements
Other central elements of the digital enterprise are digital smartness and shared data. According to Wijers, these are not things you approach as standalone, but as much as possible in connection with the digital frontend, backend and infrastructure. “Digital is everybody’s job. Everything you do has to be scalable, fit for purpose – that requires ownership and multidisciplinary teams and responsibilities.” 

He also introduced the concept of multimodality. This means that different aspects of business operations require different kinds of IT. Sometimes focused on distinctive service or market position, and sometimes focused on operational efficiency. The so-called Operating Model Canvas (OMC) helps determine which IT optimally fits which business activity. 

The OMC of CZ shows with the use of colors that at the health insurer the many generic processes labeled green, partly in view of the highly regulated business domain, require stable and efficient IT support. In addition, on the customer side blue (adaptive) deserves attention, while on the product side purple predominates: the need for distinctive (specialized) solutions. 

Personal drivers
The easy-talking CZ-CIO Peter Slager would return briefly to OMC after his presentation. First, he talked about his own motivations to help improve health care. “My wife is a general practitioner, so we have regular conversations at the kitchen table about the possibilities. I also believe that business and IT are one in the same, with tech and data as enablers of all kinds of new possibilities.” 

That power of innovation is badly needed, because the healthcare industry is facing major challenges: keeping healthcare affordable and dealing with labor shortages. As one of the larger companies, the board member says CZ can help guide the sector toward tech- and data-based solutions. The former top handball player brings vision, extensive digital leadership experience and team spirit. 

To best address the spearheads for the so-called CZ2030 strategy, he is working on, among other things, customer focus, simplification, streamlined methods and processes and, finally, a more results-driven culture. A more focused organization and a scalable, modular and secure IT landscape are important tools. 

Strategic enabler
Peter Slager has now been on the way for about two years. “In the summer of 2023, we saw that as part of the IT change program, costs were rising dramatically. In addition, we needed to accelerate. Together with Anderson Macgyver, we then determined a new target architecture. With the OMC, we saw which IT best fit our processes, principles and business activities. The conclusion was that we had too much customization. In addition to standardization, we also recalibrated the sourcing strategy.” 

At the end of his presentation, the CZ-CIO again emphasized the strategic importance of technology and data, striking a good balance between business value-oriented innovativeness and limiting complexity. “After two years, we as IT have made the shift from internal supplier to a more strategic enabler,” he said. 

It was striking that the questions from the 60-member audience were mostly about the strategic position of technology and data, with Peter Slager emphasizing that digital tools can help pre-eminently in being able to provide people with the right care. AI can also play a role in this – supporting the human factor and especially as an enabler for operational excellence and serving customers better. 

Moreover, it is important to involve concerned employees, suppliers and other parties in the ecosystem. Slager: “We really have to do it together.” 

Curious about the recap of our previous Masterclass with Jon Månson of Scania? Read it here.

Back to previous page