Will CIOs be responsible for replacing workers with robots?
Automated technologies are becoming easier to implement, streamlining formerly clunky services. The service industry, in particular, is ripe for automation, and examples already permeate businesses consumers engage with daily.
McDonald's rolled out mobile order and pay last March and digital kiosks to make in-store ordering a more fluid process. Panera, too, has rolled out a similar model and so have airports around the world.
Though it's easy for the consumer, it can also reduce operating costs. Labor costs can prove more expensive than the price of implementing a kiosk, even if that kiosk is delivered as a service.
The fast food chain had considered ordering kiosks in the past but decided the cost for installation was prohibitive. However, because of an increased minimum wage, the investment may soon prove worthwhile.
Often, C-suite executives are the business leaders responsible for announcing such large-scale strategy shifts. But in terms of decision-making, who is responsible for technology that could directly impact the future of a company's workforce?
Though CIOs and other business technology decision makers help influence corporate tech strategies by guiding technology implementations across departments, they're not necessarily the executives who dictate automation choices.
"Decisions about automation are usually made by other business leaders not the CIO," wrote Andrew Horne, IT practice leader for Gartner, in an email. "However, the CIO might have been the first person in the company to see the opportunity to use kiosks or robots, bringing it to the attention of the other business leaders."
Leading by influence, CIOs can introduce technology trends and options to fellow executives. They are also often charged with implementing pilot programs, which can help demonstrate the application of a proof of concept.
Instead, automation decisions are generally made from the senior operation level with CIO input, according to John Parkinson, affiliate partner at Waterstone Management Group. In a fast-food setting, everyone from the chief operating officer to the chief administrative officer to the chief customer officer could have input.
Follow Naomi Eide on Twitter