The Changing Role of the CIO

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In the past, CIOs were seen as the guardians of servers, implementers of software and maintainers of systems.

Today, CIOs are increasingly becoming responsible for strategic initiatives, profitability and even new product development.

The traditional CIO with a tech-heavy background was not required to take into account the business impact of IT implementations on both the top and bottom line. But this is changing… fast.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020, sending tech workers, teachers, engineers and more into a remote work model, the CIO’s role and responsibilities came into sharper focus. The quick pivot caught many unawares, but those who had been performing their due diligence were prepared, and are even seeing significant growth as a result of their methodical investments.

These top performers are able to seize an opportunity to lean into the shift resulting from the pandemic and increase funding for digital innovation. They invested more quickly, and those investments mattered. Organizations that increased funding of digital innovation are 2.7 times more [1] likely to be a top performer than a trailing one.

A recent Gartner report[2] states 76% percent of CIOs reported increased demand for new digital products [3] and services as a result of COVID-19 and 83% expect that to increase further in 2021, according to the Gartner CIO Agenda 2021. Along the same line, 65% of CIOs saw an increase in the use of self-service by customers/citizens, and 79% expect that usage to grow in 2021.

With the inclusion of software into physical products, the proliferation of connected devices, and near ubiquitous IoT, the separation between software and hardware continues to thin. Add to this the increasing demand for self-service, CIOs understand that they are now responsible for both back-office and customer-facing technologies including e-commerce, m-commerce, product configuration, payment processing, SKUs and more.

This is where you see the term “COO by proxy” being introduced. Gartner’s recent predictions [4] for CIOs states that by 2025, 25% of traditional large-enterprise CIOs will be held accountable for digital business operational results.

As a “COO by proxy”, the CIO will take on the organization wide role and begin to close the gaps between what the technology can do, what the business can do and what the business wants to do. This shift in CIO responsibilities and scope is something we at Configit have been seeing for the last few years.

Products continue to get ‘smarter’, and with this intelligence comes a deluge of data that can be researched, monetized or returned via a feedback loop to create new or updated products.

A CIO´s place at the table will only continue to grow as we see the increased adoption of AI, VR, AR, Everything-as-a-Service and much more.