Perhaps no one is having a greater identity crisis in digital transformation than the CIO. Back in the day, IT was IT. It meant keeping machines running. Keeping systems safe. Staying in the back-office and showing up in the Board room only when rarely needed. But we’re redefining CIOs in the digital era in big and exciting ways.
In fact, today’s CIOs are being charged with leading digital transformation in their organization, whether they’re ready to or not. The following are a few trends re-shaping the role of CIO, and how your company can benefit from them.
Re-writing the CIO Job Description
When it comes to redefining CIOs in the digital era, we need to recognize their entire job description is changing. Once sideline players, CIOs are now becoming leaders in company strategy and innovation. The following are a few new bullets to add to your next CIO job post:
Must be a visionary. Today’s CIOs are about aligning technology with business strategy. What does that mean? They need to be able to think of unique ways to use technology to drive revenue, increase customer loyalty, and improve customer experience. Basically—they need to be savvy business people, with the ability to communicate their vision to everyone from the Board room to the basement mail room. Redefining CIOs in the digital era means inspiring change throughout the enterprise.
Must be a tech athlete. Back in the day, you could hire a CIO based on expertise in the software your company used most often. Nowadays, tech changes so fast that understanding one type simply isn’t enough. Today’s CIOs must be tech athletes, lettering in multiple revolutionary technologies, and at least JV-ing the rest.
Must network—daily. Far from a back-office role, today’s CIO needs to be out and about, networking both externally within the business ecosystem and internally to create tech fluency (i.e. understanding) among employees. Wall flowers need not apply! Redefining CIOs in the digital era means constantly checking in with other experts in the field to find out what’s coming and how your company can benefit from it.
Must be good with numbers. Today’s most savvy businesses look at technology as an asset, not an expense. Many companies, however, are still straddling the technology fence—forcing CIOs to focus on operations rather than business growth. CIOs in the modern marketplace need to be able to talk numbers—to explain the value technology can bring to the company—and the value they bring when they stop doing all mundane upkeep stuff.
Must be flexible. Along with the above, CIOs need to be OK with outsourcing those mundane tasks via ItaaS and other cloud-based infrastructure, network, and software solutions. The less monitoring and maintaining they have to do, the better. In redefining CIOs in the digital era, their value comes from innovation, not just keeping the company online.
Must love growth. New technologies emerge daily. Today’s CIOs must be curious. They must be well-rounded and creative enough to see even the glimpse of a new technology and feel a passionate drive to find out how it might grow the business—increase efficiency—improve the bottom line.
Essentially, redefining CIOs in the digital era means giving CIOs a bigger seat at the C-suite table. That’s not something CIOs themselves can take—it’s something that needs to be given to them by the CEO and other executives who truly understand how important technology is in today’s digital marketplace and who are ready to accept the insights these new CIOs offer.
Redefining CIOs in the digital era means changing the qualities HR looks for in new hires. It means changing the culture the CEO creates to include innovation, fast-fails, and curiosity. It means recognizing that in today’s marketplace, technology is power—and they need a powerful and intelligent person to guide it.
If your company isn’t quite there yet, don’t worry. Most still aren’t where they need to be in terms of tech adoption, and many still deal with power struggle amongst the CMOs, CIOs, CEOs, and every other officer in the C-suite. Still, times aren’t just changing—they’ve already changed completely. The sooner you’re able to find a CIO whose up to the challenge, the better off you’ll be.
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