Opinion: Mike Guggemos, Global CIO, Insight, looks at the evolving role of the Chief Information Officer.
As a practicing CIO I have witnessed the role evolve. Fact is, research from Insight UK has highlighted what appears to be a drastic shift in the CIO role – thanks in part to increased prominence of easy to use workplace technology. The growing importance of IT within organisations is hard to ignore and, in fact, our research indicated 8 in 10 business decision makers state their company plans to invest more in tech over the next year.
However, this also reflects a shift in the role of the CIO. It has long been a truism that technology is changing each and every aspect of our lives, including the way we work. Today, we are seeing this revolution hit the CIO full force. With a consistently changing workplace, this shouldn’t be too much of a surprise but for some – let’s call them CIO 1.0 – it seems it is.
Reality is the traditional technology and operations focused CIO has not moved with the times which has created an expectation gap. According to the report findings, these CIO’s are only responsible for day-to-day running of IT and have been unsuccessful in positioning themselves in the boardroom. This has led to dissatisfaction amongst the wider board who look to their CIO for strategic direction more so than technical advice. Being a technologist remains critical, yet being fluent in strategic objectives of the larger organization is even more so.
The last 5-7 years have transformed the CIO’s role to be more security and enablement focused vs. technological efficiency. Not surprising when you consider the impact of recent high profile data breaches; TalkTalk instantly comes to mind. Cost-effectiveness and innovation will always be high on our agendas; however, larger management team access to diverse technology means CIOs need to demonstrate how and where IT contributes to positive results while defending core technical architecture.
This might not be an easy task for CIO 1.0 who, according to the findings, must evolve to maintain their role in the business decision making process. There is a real need for organisations, particularly the leadership teams, to ensure they are united; however, many senior directors believe the majority of technology budgets should sit with the board and not the CIO. This is reflected in CIO 1.0 not feeling supported by their peers in the boardroom; many functional leaders believe the CIO role ranks below theirs in importance. In fact, according to roughly half of survey respondents, the last two years have witnessed the CIO role decrease in importance.
However, it’s not all doom and gloom. There is a wealth of opportunity for the new edition of the CIO, CIO 2.0 if you will, who is responsible for changing the face of the business and of the role of IT. These CIOs are coming in and taking on much more than ever before. They know security inside out, they’re innovative, driven to make change, and deeply involved across functions. Most importantly, they understand that IT – and the technology they adopt – plays a key part in enabling the success of their business. However, to stand out from their boardroom peers, they have to differentiate themselves by being business focused as well as tech savvy.
Change is constant thus CIOs shouldn’t just accept change…they should welcome it, pilot it, and channel it to their organizations advantage. The fundamental distinction between CIO 1.0 and CIO 2.0 is embracing constant change and funnelling it to business benefit while defending core architectures; has to be both. In today’s rapidly changing boardroom, the CIO who recognizes and embraces the need to regularly re-examine, redefine, and realign themselves to the business’s strategic objectives will continue to prosper.