Despite the industry pegging the role of CIO as gradually slipping out of relevance, 2018 has proven yet again that executive-level leadership in IT is more necessary than ever.
The role of CIO is constantly evolving and therefore requires leaders to always have their fingers on the pulse in order to keep tabs on developments within the industry and the next big thing in digital, and for many, this fast-paced sector can be too overwhelming.
Due to digital transformation, one of the biggest changes in the past few years, CIO’s are now not only communicating with just the direct IT related teams but, in fact, the whole company. With every single function in the business falling under the digital umbrella due to widespread changes to processes and systems in an effort for everything to exist digitally. They now must understand how every department fits into the IT strategy and make changes accordingly.
What is a CIO?
As the most senior technology executive in a business, the CIO will oversee all things in regards to technology and the subsequent strategy. A CIO must provide an executive-level approach to the technology strategy and build links between the department and the wider business.
CIO’s in comparison to an IT director will typically manage the wider and outward-facing strategy for the companies technology systems and digitisation. Often, a CIO will be responsible for establishing the wider strategy, whilst those who work within their direct team will manage the sourcing and evaluation of technologies for the company.
However, there are no set divides between CIO, IT Director, CTO or similar, whereby they may all have a hand in identifying an opportunity for external sales of an in-house development or technology or utilising knowledge to identify areas for growth in terms of implementing technology for sales processes.
Why does a business need a CIO?
For many businesses, a CIO is a great investment. From running and managing the IT functionalities of the business, monitoring the data centre and ensuring that systems and services are running smoothly, to building a future-proof strategy to see the business flourish inline with developments and changing stakeholder needs.
When a technical error occurs, a CIO can utilise a wealth of experience and knowledge to provide a resolution. With the rest of the business now resting on the technology used in-house, a CIO must be ready to jump on a problem, which can occur at any time of the day or night.
Alongside functionality, CIO’s will also have to consider the security of the data that a business processes. This could be employee and payroll information or the details of customers including highly sensitive data. CIO’s must ensure that the basic requirements are done well and in place working correctly in order for more complex and sophisticated systems to be implemented for stronger resistance to hackers and viruses.
Finally, a CIO will drive the IT strategy which in turn will power the overarching business strategy. Technology is resulting in huge changes in the way a business operates and requires a knowledgeable and watchful eye to align the two together. A CIO must understand the broader business requirements and prioritise what fits in where with the technology available. This may also include identifying areas for development within their team to ensure that the technical skills available are up to date and cutting edge.