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In a Couple of Years, the CIO’s Position Won’t Look the Same

Over the next few years, chief information officers (CIOs) in all industries will become architects of new business models. Those who navigate with skill and foresight will have the opportunity to guide their companies to new levels of success, while those who ignore important trends and insist on doing business as usual will see their companies fall into decline.


Altering Departmental Roles

Security automation and growing SecDevOps, as well as software-defined networking and infrastructure, rapid application development, and the convergence of operations through DevOps, all necessitate a reskilling of the IT department. And CIOs must move rapidly to address it. These changes, combined with a growing focus on customer experience, will require IT, teams, to evolve into more strategic roles, such as engineers moving away from manually patching servers and instead ensuring IT is ready to deliver new solutions faster and scale quickly in response to changing priorities. There is a significant skills gap to close, as well as a new literacy that should be cultivated. Individual knowledge in each IT discipline, from database administrators to sysadmins to network engineers and developers, should be supported and aligned with the business and technology goals. At the same time, CIOs and their teams will never be able to master all of the technology specialties, so they must keep focused on the digital transformation goals to avoid becoming distracted.


The Ability to Change Agents

In the next five years, the CIO’s most essential position may be that of a change agent, which goes far beyond understanding the promise of technology and actually bringing it to life. CIOs should be aware of the organization’s current capabilities and gaps, as well as the vendors with whom they should partner. They must also be able to build capability within the organization and reskill teams to meet the new challenges. This includes, among other things, enhancing market speed or reach, as well as improving the capacity to implement solutions quickly and consistently through automation. CIOs should first be open to change in order to be change agents. They must broaden their expertise by listening to and learning from peers in their business and other industries. Also, they must link their priorities to larger business objectives and take responsibility for the outcomes.


Going Beyond Technological Expertise

CIOs having only deep understanding of technology will be the first to get pigeonholed, and, worse, they will stymie development. To be successful in the next five years, technology executives should invest in their soft skills more than anyone in technology domain. CIOs can always employ and educate people with deep technological experience, but they should be able to convey the benefits of technology strategy in basic business terms to be productive members of the board. They must be adept at persuading and motivating the business team to pursue new business opportunities.