The role of an IT leader has been set in stone for the longest time. Their primary function was to ensure that an organisation’s technology infrastructure works the way it’s supposed to while providing tech support to internal and external stakeholders and, if possible, consolidating IT infrastructure to reduce overall costs to the business. Strategic input from a CIO was usually confined to conversations related to enterprise solutions. However, with the evolution of technology, the role and expectations of today’s IT leader have changed. The modern IT leader is expected to play both roles – that which is their legacy and the other which has become today’s business necessity.

Over the past three decades, technology has seen exponential growth, which has automatically impacted the role that a CIO must play within an organisation. This new age of constant digital disruption has introduced us to artificial intelligence, big data, cloud computing, mobility and more. This rapid evolution of IT in business has brought into focus the ability of the CIO to impact business innovation and growth. Digital innovation, within business, has become a key driver for CIOs and other IT leaders to actively participate in delivering on broader business goals. The 2018 Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey with 3958 IT leaders as respondents across 84 countries noted that “Whilst no other executive role is undergoing so much change as the Chief Information Officer, no other executive role has the opportunity to be truly transformational, both for the organisation, and for the person occupying it.”

This 2018 Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey also noted the rise of the Chief Digital Officer (CDO), saying that “Organisations with a CDO, either in a dedicated or acting role, are over twice as likely to have a clear and pervasive digital strategy than those without one” [44% versus 21%] According to a Harvard Business Review article, a CDO is primarily responsible for creating a unified digital vision. This vision can help energise a company and help it see the various digital possibilities that can help an organisation rethink its products and processes that better align with the digital age. A CDO is also responsible for coordinating digital activities and identifying appropriate tools and/or resources to help a business achieve its digital vision. Therefore, the requirement for a CDO within an organisation is not a threat, but an an opportunity for a CIO to become a key influencer to shape an organisation’s future. A CDO is not a replacement of a CIO, but rather a key strategic partner of a CIO who can help the organisation further align its technology strategy and vision.

A basic list of expectations that a CIO is likely to perform in their current role in today’s business environment is as follows:

  • Shape an organisation’s technology strategy and vision that aligns with the overarching business strategy and objectives.
  • Enhance customer experience and engagement through adoption of the right technology to grow business revenue.
  • Understand current and emerging technologies that may impact business and customer experience and plan to integrate required technology into the way the organisation conducts everyday business.
  • Ensure that cyber security and information security are integrated into every technological adoption and have a risk mitigation plan in place.
  • Communicate technological change across an entire organisation and inspire employees to adopt this change through comprehensive change management initiatives.
  • Continue to consolidate IT infrastructure, while increasing automation of workflows and processes to decrease redundancies and human error.

The continuous evolution of technology will keep CIOs on their toes for a long time to come. Digital disruption is inevitable across most industries and businesses. Businesses are looking at IT leaders to navigate them through this dynamically changing business environment. One of the few steps IT leaders are taking to bring change to their organisation is formulating a digital transformation roadmap. 

Take a quick Ricoh survey to assess where your organisation currently stands in its digital transformation journey.