Financial Services Blog

In my last post, I described the various and conflicting demands facing CIOs in today’s fast-paced digital environments. I also discussed how a multi-speed approach—and not multi-tasking—is key to meeting these demands. In this post, I will examine how CIOs can address this multitude of internal and external challenges or, in other words, how they can operate in a multi-dimensional world.


External and internal challenges abound

Across industries, enterprises are facing a multitude of challenges, both external and internal.

External challenges include:

  • Keeping pace with innovation.
  • Introducing faster product launches.
  • Enhancing customer experiences.
  • Managing increasing risk and regulatory pressures.

Internal challenges include:

  • Optimizing sourcing of services.
  • Balancing agility and resiliency.
  • Addressing rigid legacy architecture.
  • Operating within a company culture that views IT as just a cost center.

With such a host of challenges, effective IT organizations need to be able to use different methods of operation at the same time.

However, this is not a straight-forward, one-size-fits-all process.

In fact, Accenture research has found that:

71% of surveyed executives are confident that they or their IT organization could operate and simultaneously support multiple business objectives, or “multi-speed IT.”1

Yet, when asked about organizations in general:

81% of executives stated that most IT organizations do not know how to operate effectively while supporting multiple objectives at the same time.2

As you can see, executives may overestimate their own organization’s ability to work at multiple speeds. This is where the role of the CIO becomes critical in allocating time, talent and financial resources for optimum results.

While many IT organizations prioritize cutting costs, increasing productivity and automating processes, high-performing CIOs tend to focus on different areas. Specifically, our research has shown that top CIOs strive to:3

  • Provide the right information to the right person.
  • Find better ways to interact with customers.
  • Deliver new services or products.

It is easy to see that such fine-tuning can only be achieved with a multi-faceted IT operating model.


An effective multi-speed IT organization requires different modes operating at the same time

To be able to pursue opportunities for quick innovation while maintaining everyday business operations, some CIOs choose a bifurcated approach.

However, this so-called two-speed IT is rarely enough. In fact, the bifurcated approach all too often results in the CIO being left in charge of the legacy business, while stakeholders from other parts of the organization gain control of the growth and innovation agenda, as well as investment.

The key to maintaining momentum in the multi-speed world is matching the speed of technology to the speed at which the business needs to consume it.

While everyone wants to be moving at full speed, it is up to the CIO to match business velocity to the architectural environment and the reality of the operating model. Once each part of the business is moving at the right speed, the CIO team can look at renewing the legacy architecture and accelerating innovation across the board.

In my next post, I will take a look at how CIOs can calibrate the operating model.

In the meantime, take a look at the full Gearing Up for Growth Using Multi-speed IT report for further information.



  1. Accenture Strategy Research, 2015. Survey of 900 executives around the world on a variety of topics related to multi-speed business and IT, business resilience, technology-led innovation and the digital agenda.
  2. Accenture Strategy Research, 2015. Intersection of business and technology.
  3. High IT Performers: Defined by digital and driving growth, 2013. Insights from Accenture’s fourth High Performance IT Research.

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