IT Services to Business Strategy: The New CIOs Journey

In an increasingly data-driven world, the role of chief information officers (CIOs) is transforming to a greater extent. Their services are extended beyond traditional IT services. They are engaged in making strategic choices about technology, managing and using data to drive business growth.

The CIOs importance is growing beyond technological processes and data as they are stepping more into the business strategy decisions of their organization. They are expected to play a tactical role in the business growth and sustenance of their organization.

Let us catch the groundbreaking insights on the leadership capabilities of CIOs in the contemporary business world.

Role of CIOs in modern business

The modern CIOs execute high-level responsibilities beyond IT transformation. CIOs are expected to monitor business strategy and trends to ensure the appropriate use of technologies. CIOs invest in the right tools while making their organization competitive in the ever-changing business market.

CIO Magazine states that IT leaders are seen as key players in companies’ quest to improve their bottom lines.

The traditional CIOs focused on IT service delivery while supervising the company’s technology needs. They ensured interconnectivity, voice communication systems, desktop installation, server management, and most of the time remained disconnected from the company’s business goals. They were on the operational side delivering IT infrastructure and ensuring uptime of systems.

This scenario has drastically changed as they are focusing more on the applications and services. They are switching over to strategic projects to add value and drive efficiency through technology. They now wear multiple hats like IT operators, technologists, change leaders, and business strategists who can architect and orchestrate all the technology platforms that enable business needs.

According to CIO Insights, 70 percent of CIOs will move away from the IT management functions to become innovative partners and integral contributors to business strategy. They speak the language of every department like customer service, marketing, IT, shipping, understand the technology trends and how they drive business goals and profit while reducing cost.

Successful CIOs are becoming business leaders of digital business units. They are empowering IT organizations to create the digital backbone while accelerating the organization to move toward the cloud environment and new operating environments, says Steve Hall, partner, and president, ISG advisory firm.

Rahul Singh, MD of Pace Harmon, calls CIO as Chief Digital Innovation Officer who helps the company to become a data-driven enterprise.

An e-business strategy can succeed only if CIO can ensure cybersecurity or business continuity. A few of the key responsibilities in support of managerial roles played by CIOs are –

  • Improving the efficiency of IT business processes
  • Optimizing IT costs and savings
  • Supporting business planning and decisions
  • Ensuring compliance and IT regulations
  • Entering new and innovative markets
  • Managing IT structure, health, and culture
  • Working with business leaders to improve existing IT structure
  • Providing new technology-supported business solutions
  • Driving innovation in business processes and operations
  • Refining time within the budget for IT projects
  • Governing IT performance across the organization
  • Engaging with business leaders for new processes and systems
  • Increasing IT budgets and spending
  • Improving the overall talent and capabilities of IT staff

The CIO strategist agenda

A smaller number of CIOs are evaluating ideas and cultivating an entrepreneurial spirit.

CIOs play a central role while developing business strategy agenda. They take the role in revenue-generating initiatives (62%), understanding customer needs (55%), creating business-case scenarios (40%), creating teams to focus on innovation (47%), as per CIO survey, 2019.

Carol Juel, CIO of Synchrony Financial succeeded in rebuilding the technology foundation from the ground, established an innovative framework to bring new products and services to market at a faster rate.

Further, the research found that CIOs are building their portfolios with new domains like data analytics (64%), business development (38%), product development (29%), customer service (32%), and operations (43%).

Post COVID-19 scenario

Above all, CIOs have a bigger responsibility to revisit the IT application framework like server systems, network, bandwidth, security; business continuity plans; disaster recovery programs, access control policy, allot company device policies, bring your device policies, and all the pain areas experienced during this lockdown period.

How to navigate the CIO evolution

To navigate the changing role of CIOs from technologists to business strategists, current CIOs need to know where they stand now. Looking forward, CIOs must have talking points ready for any organizational situation. Through strategic discussions consume time, CIOs must gear up for leadership meetings, board meetings, one-to-one meetings, and, etc.

As there is no specific CIO certification, the IT leaders must cope up with the new strategy role with a combo of certifications. To mention a few, they include business strategy certifications, project management professional certifications, ITIL certifications, certified in the governance of enterprise IT (CGEIT), data analytics, and business development.

The takeaway

When it comes to digital transformation and innovative business strategy, CIOs need to measure up new benchmarks.

The modern CIOs must have a blend of technical expertise, business acumen, communication, and leadership skills. CIOs with advanced experience and education can tackle business and technology landscape. To lead productivity and profitability, CIOs of tomorrow are expected to blend IT background with business knowledge.

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