Quarterly CIO Outlook
It’s a new day for chief information officers (CIOs). In the past, the CIO was primarily the head of corporate IT and manager of back-office technologies. Today, that role is steadily evolving as we prepare to enter a post-pandemic world.
Technology is not only shaping business strategy but accelerating our recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Given CIOs’ proximity to the technology stack, they are in a unique position to lead their organization—and society—through disruptions and toward new, innovative avenues of sustainable growth.
In a world of technologists, much of the C-suite has become well-versed in the tools and technologies within the marketplace. What sets the CIO apart is the ability to combine technology prowess with a keen understanding of business strategy.
At the start of the pandemic, CIOs were the first to respond by rapidly adopting technologies like cloud, analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and security. By partnering with other business leaders to maintain operations and transition to a remote working environment, CIOs gained experience and insight that no one else in the C-suite has.
Now, CIOs are being seen as agents for change in their organizations. At times, their role may look more like that of a CTO or chief digital officer (CDO). In the future, these positions are likely to converge as technology becomes so ubiquitous in society that the responsibilities of these three roles fall under the same purview.
CIOs need to help drive innovation. And if they want to demonstrate their value, they’ll have to meet the prerequisites: namely, an IT shop that’s in good financial order and an optimized operating model.
Turn credibility into inspiration
A CIO’s first priority should be looking inward to make sure they’ve optimized their own IT departments. Take technology spend, for instance. By bringing their run cost down, CIOs can free up more funds to invest in new, exciting capabilities that will help transform IT, and ultimately, the business.
Once they’ve gotten their house in order, CIOs will have the time and energy to assist the rest of the business by providing guidance around technology and business strategy. CIOs with a solid grasp on emerging technologies will be able to articulate and advocate their value proposition to the business.
CIOs should be mindful, though, to take incremental steps so they can demonstrate early proof points. Innovation must be scalable. That’s why they should look to one or two areas of the business, such as finance or marketing, as a starting place for collaboration. These small steps will ladder up to creating a larger, innovative culture where the CIO and technology are key drivers of agility across the enterprise.