How is ‘digital’ changing the role of the CIO?

In a world of Big Data and mobile optimisation, digital technology is transforming the role of the Chief Information Officer (CIO).

How has the role of the CIO changed?

Customers have a higher level of connectivity and escalating expectations when it comes to ease of access to products, price comparison, speed of ordering, data security, delivery monitoring, and refund methods.

What’s more, increasingly detailed data is now being used by marketers to meet these expectations, and offer first class customer service.

CIOs are no longer solely responsible for the technical tasks involved in ensuring that companies can operate smoothly day-to-day. They are required to work collaboratively with the Marketing Director or CMO and the Chief Digital Officer (CDO) to deliver robust, yet innovative and agile, solutions as part of an organisation’s wider marketing and sales strategy.

CIOs are now expected to be the figurehead for fostering innovation within their company, the strategists behind steady application lifecycle management, data governance wardens, the masters of smooth supply chain management, and much more.

Is the rise of the CDO role a threat to CIOs?

Many questions have been asked about whether organisations need both a CIO and a CDO, and some reports have suggested that CDOs are turning CIOs into an extinct species. Gartner has even predicted that 25% of large companies will have CDOs by 2017.

Whilst some CEOs may assign CDOs responsibilities that could fall under the remit of CIOs, we believe these roles are different and are not a threat to each other. CIOs will always hold the keys to the vital data used by CDOs and CMOs, they will always be responsible for managing technology strategy, and they will always be the technical experts.

Collaboration is key to success, a point that was well conveyed by JetBlue Airways CIO Eash Sundaram, who told CIO Magazine: “Leave the titles at home and come to work with a vision to make a new customer experience and then see how you want to structure your organization.”

What must CIOs do to succeed in the Digital era?

  • Serve Customers First: CIOs that use technology to achieve business objectives, above IT objectives, have always been the most successful. This way of working is even more crucial in the digital era.
  • Leave The Egos At Home: CIOs are going to be working more closely with CMOs, CDOs, and other key decision makers on digital projects. They must unite over common goals and remember that enthusiasm, expertise, and empathy are the most important qualities required when collaborating.
  • Stay Agile: If CIOs want to keep up with the dreaded pace of digital change they are going to have to ensure that their systems are flexible enough to cope with external disruptions from the market place. They also need to respond quickly to the requests of the CDO and CMO.

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