Recent musings in some quarters of the media have questioned the future existence of the role of CIO. Such articles make for interesting reading, but don’t expect the ‘C’ to disappear from the ‘IO’ anytime soon. The reality is quite the opposite.

 

Twenty to thirty years ago, technology was simply a back office, data processing activity. Since then, the convergence of social, mobile and cloud has transformed the role of the Chief Information Officer (CIO).

As technology becomes a critical point of difference in a competitive digital world, some of the most innovative organisations view IT as a primary engine of change for their companies, heralding a second coming for the CIO.

“The role of the CIO in an organisation is more important now than ever,” explains Kareem Tawansi, CEO of the Solentive Technology Group, “but the nature of the role is changing.” Tawansi notes that as CIOs become increasingly involved in tackling the business challenges confronting their organisation, they will become more strategic.

“Going forward, CIOs will drive innovation,” says Tawansi.

The role of the CIO is morphing into that of a true agent of change, one that can architect and drive competitive advantage. As the CIO role becomes more strategic, we will see a new generation of technology executives participating in long-term business transformation initiatives, whilst overseeing the IT systems that support ongoing business operations.

Released from the traditional shackles of support desks, server upgrades, and what can best be described as an uneasy relationship with the rest of the business, CIOs will need to sharpen their focus on emerging new technologies, cloud-based services, utilisation of big data innovation, data security and mobility – whilst keeping costs under control.

Tawansi adds that, “CIOs need to be able to apply their technical skills and drive strategy within the organisation”. They need to be agile, respond quickly to market pressures and develop strong allies in the business, teaming with colleagues and peer executives to enhance employee productivity and streamline operations.

Key to the success of the CIO will be his or her ability to forge strong relationships with C-level counterparts. Transformative technologies are only part of the success. The ability to engage internal stakeholders, communicate the vision and drive sustainable change will only be possible when there is broad support and strong sponsorship within the organisation.

With the dark depths of the GFC well and truly behind us, there is new impetus to invest in transformative technologies and operating models that put the customer front and centre.

Tomorrow’s CIOs are on a journey of change. They must focus their abilities as managers and influencers to tap their full potential as business leaders, driving innovation and technological transformation to take the organisation to the next level.