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New Challenges Have Reshaped the Role of the CIO

By Kevin Kern, CEO & President, Innotas

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Kevin Kern, CEO & President, Innotas

Today’s CIO faces so many dynamic challenges that the talent pool for the position differs from years past. The characteristics and requirements for this role are evolving and the expectations by business leaders is shifting–creating a new paradigm for staffing the position.

The requirements for today’s modern CIO consist of stronger business acumen versus just the traditional technical proficiencies required in past years. It’s not good enough to be a guru in technology given the business demands and decisions that CIOs are responsible for, in today’s fluctuating environment. Consider the impact on IT with the new cloud computing offerings that are being introduced into the marketplace. If you believe that most of the sustaining, non-strategic work that CIOs were previously chartered with managing is now being outsourced, then it follows that the CIOs skillset would demand modification to address the strategic project work that would be their new focus. The role requires a blend of business acumen coupled with a technology understanding.

“CIOs need to be thinking predictively to solve new business problems”

Today’s executives are far more tech savvy and don’t require as much hand holding from the CIO. The technology skill set once required to source CIOs will continue to shift from traditional technology backgrounds to other management functions. The significance of connecting the advantages of technology to real business problems is now the critical characteristic of the modern day CIO. Buying and using technology for keeping up with the “latest trend” is dead–and has been for several years. Connecting the dots between the technical tools and the value to users is here to stay.

One of the past challenges for CIOs was always to have a “seat at the table” when it came to impacting business strategy and their organization’s market direction, but often could take years to gain the trust of senior management. Things have changed.

Tackling the “Fabulous Five”

Several macro trends continue to change the way organizations align work efforts by managing project portfolios, applications, and resources. CIOs must rethink their approach to incorporate the effects of these five large trends in IT.

• Consumerization of IT

• Distributed Workforces

• Collaboration & Crowdsourcing

• Agile Project Management

• Data Accessibility

This “fabulous five” is creating an environment of increased disruption and volatility, forcing organizations to have more business agility in their processes and decision making. We learned long ago that being reactive does not yield the best results, but now we are learning that being proactive is no longer enough-CIOs need to be thinking predictively to solve new business problems.

The “Fabulous Five” are disrupting the standard operational and business practices that CIOs have known or suspected for years. These new trends are rapidly impacting organizations and are changing traditional models such as, how plans and roadmaps are developed, how projects are executed, how applications are managed, and how resources are allocated. Today all of this needs to be more predictive. The external market shifts and business changes influence how rapidly priorities for IT can change and these organizations are mandated and measured on their agility to adapt to that change and complete the work assigned–resulting in more business-focused decision making.

CIOs must have the ability to predict which group of projects will generate the most value for the organization. They need to automate how they schedule people on projects and applications to ensure maximum optimization of scarce resources. Additionally, and perhaps more im¬portantly, they need to have solu¬tions that recommend and pro¬vide foresight to ensure that the teams are working on the right things at the right time. It’s no surprise that a research paper from Transparency Market Research estimates the market for predictive analyt¬ics software will reach $6.5B USD

Moving Forward: Impacting the Business

The impact of globalization, recession, cloud computing, and IT governance re¬quirements on CIOs today are impacting the role and the skill set for the bet¬ter. IT should always have a “seat at the table” to ensure that the available technologies are impacting the busi-ness in the right ways and educating the business on the benefits of prioritiz¬ing the business’ requests. CIOs have to be passionate and coura¬geous about driving the discussion and collabora¬tion with the business like never before. They have to be able to say “yes” and “no” to work requests with good reasons to support either decision with unwaver¬ing confidence. The business will listen.

I have pointed out several major trends in the market that will impact how CIOs and their organizations manage projects, applications, and resources. Incorporating predictive analytics into any project portfolio will provide the foresight to manage ahead versus managing in the rearview mirror. It will enablefirms to execute with efficiency and confidence.

CIOs that can adopt predictive technologies, have the courage to drive the discussions with the business,and make bold decisions will increase their organization’s agility and be better positioned to align with business goals, market needs, and customer feedback. The ultimate result will be generating more value and profits but an additional cascading effect will be increased credibility and longevity in their role as amodern CIO who can tackle technical issues and business challenges.

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