CIO 2.0: business leaders of tomorrow

Technology has changed the workforce beyond recognition. The cloud. Mobility. The internet of things. The increasing ubiquity and prevalence of smartphone and tablet-based computing, leading in turn to the dawn of consumerisation and thence to game-changing phenomena such as BYOD, when staff bring their own preferred technology to work. The list goes on. With employees demanding more than ever before, we are wholly reliant on technology to get the job done.

Michael Guggemos Chief information officer, Insight

Michael Guggemos Chief information officer, Insight

But it’s not just our working lives that have changed. It’s also the job roles themselves and none more so than that of the chief information officer or CIO.

Over the last decade there has been much talk of this change. “The reinvention of the CIO” and “the evolving CIO” have become regular headlines as the CIO’s once all-powerful realm – the increasingly anachronistic principality known simply as IT – has slowly but surely lost control of its borders.

An increasingly technology-literate workforce has taken control of the tools they want and, as a result, CIOs have seen their budget and influence eroded accordingly. Recent research showed just how true this is with only 15 per cent of senior directors believing the CIO should hold the purse strings for IT budget.

So it should come as no surprise that today’s CIOs are becoming vastly different to their predecessors. Taking heed of the challenges laid bare, many have begun to remodel their role to once again become a heard voice in the boardroom debate. Say hello to the CIO 2.0.

Instead of focusing on the nuts and bolts of the IT, they focus on the future

These CIOs are thought leaders. They are digital leaders. They are business leaders. They are technology advocates and champions in the boardroom. They command growing budget, respect and influence. They are not just a strategic stakeholder in the future of the business; they are one of its key architects.

Instead of focusing on the nuts and bolts of the IT, they focus on the future. Driven by a desire for innovation and a requirement to stay ahead – not least due to the increasing issue of shadow IT – these CIOs understand the need for continued and orchestrated technological innovation across the business.

These modern-day CIOs understand the need for a new mindset. Instead of looking at technology in silos, they consider the business goal their division ought to be addressing. They want to understand what the business end-game is. After all, you wouldn’t find a group of chief financial officers worrying about their accountancy software, so why should CIOs waste time similarly?

They also understand the need to focus on talent growth and management. Technology is one of the fastest-changing sectors and as such there is a need to ensure the right people and the right skills are in place long before the business realises it needs them. Only a forward-thinking CIO can achieve this.

Finally and perhaps most importantly, these modern CIOs realise the need to reinvigorate their presence in the boardroom. The CIO badge no longer carries enough kudos in and of itself to guarantee the CIO power, sway or even a say in the boardroom.

Research highlighted this with 55 per cent of the senior directors we talked to saying the CIO was less important than the rest of the management team. Only the individual CIO, with a grasp of business language, a thorough understanding of the fundamental role of technology in business, will be able to change this perception.

By understanding that their department’s role has changed and that the IT function has become somewhat devolved, the new CIO has shifted focus from the day-to-day to the long-term, protecting their role and future-proofing the organisation at the same time. CIO 2.0 has arrived and they’ll be here for the long haul.

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