The COVID-19 pandemic left an indelible mark on many aspects of our lives. One of the most profound changes we have experienced concerns the composition of the workplace. Before the onslaught left behind by the pandemic, most organizations maintained an onsite workplace mentality, Since March of 2022, remote workplaces have become more of the norm and even the return to “normal” has not changed the fact that most workers remain in some type of blended work environment, where at least some job responsibilities are completed offsite. The revolution to a remote work environment has dramatically changed the role of the CIO.
Even before March 2020, CIOs had started to witness a remarkable change in their job descriptions. Contemporary CIOs no longer are considered just technical experts. The backroom senior-level executive position has transformed into a much more business-oriented partner that requires the development of additional professional skills that exceeds the advanced technical skills required to set up and maintain information technology platforms. As a recent survey conducted by Deloitte in conjunction with WSJ Intelligence emphasizes, nearly 40 percent of CEOs consider the CIO position to be the driving force for creating business strategies over the next three to five years.
With the role of the IT executive changing for a vast majority of organizations, let’s review six tips to help aspiring IT professionals thrive in the position.
1) Improve Communication Skills
The days when a CIO remained behind the scenes to address IT issues have long since passed. Developing proficient communication skills now is just as important as staying on top of rapidly changing technical skills. Improving communications skills for a CIO goes well beyond knowing how to craft incisive emails and text messages.
CIOS today must be able to use descriptive story-telling skills to sell their programs for achieving IT excellence within an organization. In an era of digital technology, developing strong interpersonal communication skills should be a priority for current and future CIOs
2) Understand the Business Side of Things
As recently as 10 years ago, the prototype CIO delivered a presentation at an executive meeting and could have left the room after completing the topics on the IT agenda list. Contemporary CIOs must be able to understand the business implications of their proposed IT solutions, from how a technical solution impacts finances to selling other members of the team about the benefits of adopting an IT strategy.
CIOs of the future must understand business goals, especially how they pertain to digital technology solutions. Earning an MBA represents one of the most effective ways to develop business management skills.
Learn more in How a CIO Can Support the CEO.
3) Approach the Job Like an Entrepreneur
Just because a CIO has attained a C-suite level position within a company does not mean the new job should be addressed according to a standard business management academic program. Yes, developing business management skills is an important part of developing the future CIOS of the world. However, business management is not solely a textbook-related skill set. CIOs now must have the ability to embrace taking risks to drive innovations within their organizations. They must be able to explore different ways to approach problems that in the past required the implementation of standard solutions.
Failure no longer should be considered a blemish, but instead, it should be considered an opportunity to learn and apply the lessons learned during the next IT crisis.
4) Learn How to Delegate
Cybersecurity has turned into the most critical job responsibility for modern CIOs. Not a day goes by when a CIO is not confronted with a cybersecurity issue, especially new actions that threatened the sensitive nature of proprietary data. The demand for cybersecurity solutions on a daily basis means CIOs have less time to address other crucial IT platform concerns. Approaching the role of the new CIO means possessing the ability to delegate responsibilities to other members of the IT team.
Many organizations have addressed the importance of delegation by creating additional C-suite level positions such as Chief Data Officer (CDO) and Chief Information Security Officer (CISO).
5) Acquire Specialized Technical Skills
Integrating business management skills into a mostly technical set of skills does not mean CIOs must abandon the technical side of their job responsibilities. In fact, contemporary CIOs should develop a specialized technical skillset that makes them experts in a certain type of IT role. After you choose an IT specialty, perform research into the new specialty to determine the additional certifications you need to obtain.
Build your resume to become a CIO by demonstrating expertise in a specific technical area. Also, check out these top cybersecurity certifications.
6) Lead by Example
Some business management skills do not require you to complete college courses and professional certification classes. The CIOs of the future can earn respect and develop camaraderie with a lead-by-example mindset. One of the most effective ways to show the rest of the technical team how to lead by example is to recognize the achievements of fellow team members.
Doling out well-deserved praise should create a more engaged team that invests in a CIO’s technical vision of the future for their companies.
Additional IT Career Resources
Looking for some guidance to help advance your IT career or become a CIO? As part of the Career Resources, accessible on the IT Executives Council Career Center, you can connect with expert career coaches and resume writers who can answer your questions and help prepare you for your cybersecurity job search.