Asana’s chief information officer talks about the important role CIOs play in monitoring tech spending and maximising employee efficiency.
Saket Srivastava is the chief information officer at work management platform Asana. Previously, he held executive positions at Square, Guidewire Software and other companies.
In his current role, Srivastava oversees the people, processes and technologies within the company’s IT organisation.
“When it comes to driving tech strategy, the CIO’s mandate is no longer back-office operations – instead, it increasingly includes connecting the technology strategy with the overarching business strategy and ultimately moving the company forward,” he told SiliconRepublic.com
“As part of this, I am often thinking about how tech can be used to improve the employee experience – from before someone even starts at the company, to once they’re onboarded and need tools to make their working days more efficient.”
‘A work management platform ensures that work about work is automated’
– SAKET SRIVASTAVA
What are some of the biggest challenges in the current IT landscape?
One of the biggest challenges for IT leaders across all industries is determining how we optimise resources in light of current economic uncertainty. Being a responsible steward of technology spend is crucial – though, this doesn’t always mean reducing spend, but rather maximising and getting the most out of the technology you already have.
The democratisation of technology, where individuals and teams can try and buy their own tech, means there has been a lot of waste. CIO’s have a unique vantage point as we work cross-functionally and can see what tech is being adopted and actually utilised by various teams. It’s the role of IT leaders to champion tools that are the most effective in helping collaboration, productivity and efficiency.
This is even more relevant to my team and the future of workspace generally, as we can be part of the solution. During the pandemic there was a rush to make remote work a success, which resulted in the onboarding of lots of apps.
In fact, workers are using an average of nine apps a day to do their jobs, which is both inefficient and causes more missed messages and longer hours worked. As CIOs, we can address this challenge by helping teams leverage the right tools and technology integrations to make work easier. This ultimately has a positive impact on the business, as well as employee wellbeing and productivity.
What are your thoughts on digital transformation in the future of work?
In my opinion, the next phase of digital transformation is about maximising efficiencies without impacting employee wellbeing.
When the pandemic started, the focus for CIOs was helping companies run effectively and avoiding a productivity drop. Turns out, productivity increased rather than dropped because teams were burning themselves out and working longer hours – 63pc of global knowledge workers said they’ve experienced burnout in the last year.
If companies want to enable an effective hybrid or distributed work model, they need to set up the right processes and tech to support their employees – which is what I’m focused on at Asana.
This is where a work management platform comes in. A work management platform ensures that work about work (the ongoing activities that take time away from meaningful work, such as checking who’s doing what and by when) is automated.
Work management platforms also support distributed teams, which have become more common since the pandemic, so co-workers across time zones can easily pick up on a project where their colleague left off.
How can sustainability be addressed from an IT perspective?
The IT industry has a role to play in helping to solve the world’s biggest problems, including climate change and sustainable resource use. At Asana, our most significant impact is through enabling our customers – including those focused on the environment – to achieve their missions.
Our values drive our approach to ESG, which is based on the concepts of transparency, accountability and clarity. While our product helps our customers pursue their impact missions, we also have our own environmental and sustainability goals, which IT leaders must play an active part in.
In the IT team and more broadly, we’re taking steps to monitor and reduce our climate footprint, create more mindful practices and procedures to minimise waste, and devote resources to building more sustainable facilities.
This feeds into the role of CIOs as responsible stewards of tech spend. By helping our organisation focus on the tools that are being utilised most effectively and have a positive impact for employees and the business, we can reduce waste both financially and from a sustainability perspective.
What big tech trends do you believe are changing the world of work?
There is an ongoing trend toward more cross-functional work, which necessitates more cross-functional tech. Employees used to have more narrow, clearly defined roles and responsibilities, but now work tends to be much more collaborative and integrated across functions, teams and even geographies.
Teams need tools that connect the work that’s being done to broader company goals and vision in real time. Work management platforms are helpful because they create accountability and increase productivity in this world of cross-functional work.
In terms of security, what are your thoughts on how we can better protect data?
At Asana, we believe that security-by-design is the best way to protect customer data. To achieve that, we bake security into every part of our business, from product design all the way to IT or HR.
And, of course, we check our work. We perform regular security assessments on our product and infrastructure, and our public bug bounty programme incentivises security researchers to report any vulnerabilities. We also take a global approach to data privacy and are committed to honouring and protecting the privacy rights of our customers and users.
As an industry, we also need to remember that protecting data goes beyond simply securing that information. It’s essential to be transparent about how personal data is gathered and used, enabling customers to have control over their own data.
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