The evolution of the CIO role from a pure technologist to a business-savvy individual is creating significant opportunities for IT professionals who understand the changed paradigm of the role.
According to a report by the Economist Intelligence Unit ‘The C-suite Challenges IT: New Expectations for Business Value’, nearly 60 percent of executives surveyed expect their IT function to change significantly in the future.
The role of the CIO has moved beyond the role of keeping IT systems operational, to demonstrating effective leadership within the business.
Deakin University CIO William Confalonieri believes this new breed of digital leaders are focused on enterprise strategy, and not solely on technology.
“Rather than only building foundational platforms for the business, the main focus of this category of leaders is on orchestrating complex digital ecosystems to deliver premium experiences to stakeholders, moving to the forefront of finding new sources of value,” he says.
CIOs are now being seen as the catalyst for innovation and are creating a portfolio approach to IT, managing the interplay between technology, talent, risks and outcomes, Jane Bianchini, Managing Director of recruitment agency Alcami, says. “People who want to position themselves for a promotion to CIO need to have skills to drive nimble responsive delivery whilst maintaining architectural integrity.”
CIOs are here to stay
Bianchini maintains that, despite the challenges being thrown at CIOs, the role will remain. “Government and businesses are starting to acknowledge that the function of IT can no longer exist in isolation,” she says.
Kym Quick, Chief Executive Officer of Recruitment business Clarius Group, agrees.
“Government, like private enterprise, is attempting to do more with less,” Quick says. “Essentially streamlining their workforce and having all layers of the workforce wearing more than one hat is becoming more common.”
For example, Bianchini says Leighton Contractor’s CIO now has business responsibilities along with IT responsibilities.
She says a leading home loan and mortgage broker is also looking to hire a CIO who will be in charge of marketing. In other areas such as real estate, where online marketing has proved crucial to success, there are now digital CIO roles.
The new CIO career plan
Leadership guru Brian Donovan says technology leaders will remain crucial in enabling organisations to take advantage of a knowledge-based future.
The CIO role is no longer about cost, compliance or maintenance – it is now about ‘new’
She has seen CIOs of some larger organisations turning to start-ups to help understand business disruption with the use of technology.
“I would recommend up and coming CIOs look to engage with the business more and more, seek out successful tech incubators and look outside the firm locally and overseas to see how other industries are embracing disruption.”
Quick says the mantra for today’s CIOs should be: “The more strings to your bow, the more versatile you will be.”
“Ensure you develop critical thinking skills, work on your leadership qualities and keep current qualifications,” Bianchini says. “Find mentors who challenge your thinking, network with those with different experiences to you, learn from them and their knowledge.”
- CIO role has expanded to include a greater focus on business.
- CIOs are not only expected to keep systems operational, they are now also required to provide strategic leadership.
- The increasing importance of online marketing has seen the CIO take on a stronger marketing focus in some sectors.
- The ability to spot new trends and disruptive technologies will be crucial to the CIO role in many industries.
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