From Tech to Strategy: How CIOs Are Leading Business Transformation

by | Jun 12, 2023 | Digital Transformation

Welcome to the era of the new CIO.

Over the past decade, the role of a CIO has dramatically shifted from primarily the role of a technical advisor to more of a strategic planner, business advisor, and facilitator of new operational models. Yes, the CIO still provides sound technical recommendations to ensure the flawless delivery of digitally transmitted data and information. However, the commercialization of technology, especially when it involves cloud technology, means the role of the new CIO involves influencing consumer demand on all tech platforms that include mobile devices.

Another reason why the role of the CIO has changed concerns the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The rapid shift to remote and then hybrid work environments requires the new CIO to create and implement a digital transformation strategy that ensures optimal employee performance. Shifting to remote and hybrid work environments forced CIOs to create robust IT infrastructures quickly that relied on carefully thought-out business strategies.

How are CIOs leading business transformation? According to the IDG 2020 State of the CIO Report, 95 percent of CIOs stated their role had expanded well beyond typical IT responsibilities. Nearly 40 percent of respondents reported that leading digital transformation programs had become their top priority. More than 30 percent of CIOs polled claimed that improving corporate resiliency through bolstering data security was one of the most important business goals for their organization.

How Have Consumers and the Cloud Impacted the Role of the CIO?

Moving digital data storage to the cloud has represented a tsunami-like change for CIOs. Cloud computing has forced CIOs to incorporate more business principles into their IT strategies. For example, adopting an all-cloud or hybrid cloud model produces numerous business benefits, such as lowering capital costs and acquiring faster access to the latest business solutions. Employees can gain corporate data from anywhere, as well as anytime on any type of electronic device. Cloud technology also allows CIOs to respond much faster to market changes, shifting consumer demand, and the strategies implemented by their competitors.

Because of the adaptation of cloud technology, CIOs have become much more involved in enhancing consumer experiences, which boils down to integrating digital solutions that encourage long-lasting customer loyalty. Consumers have more power with cloud technology, such as changing purchases in real time and receiving the latest information about certain products and services.

Why Did the Pandemic Change Everything?

Cloud technology and its positive impact on consumer behavior is not the only factor that has molded the new CIO. The pandemic played a huge role in transforming the role of the CIO because IT represented the primary resource for employees to transition from an onsite work environment to a remote work environment. The change occurred virtually overnight, as employees went from working in an office one day followed by the next day receiving work instructions from a computer located at home.

CIOs faced an almost overwhelming challenge to implement and on the fly constantly change an organization’s disaster data recovery plan. Because of the pandemic, the transition to remote workplaces also accelerated the digital transformation involved in business processes. The pandemic forced CIOs to create more transparent work environments, without compromising cybersecurity. CIOs also gained a much better understanding of the logistics involved in supply chain management.

What is the Future Role of the CIO?

Today’s role of a CIO does not mean it will also be tomorrow’s role. What does the future hold for the role of a CIO?

Business Leader

The role of the new CIO has become more business focused and less focused on providing IT services management. Expect CIOs to develop more business skills to match the job requirements of their new responsibilities.

Enhanced Collaboration

Although CIOs always had a seat at the executive table, they did not collaborate much with other department heads. The role of the new CIO involves working closely with not just the CEO, but also other executives to achieve organizational goals. Collaboration is particularly important for setting cybersecurity goals.

Detect Emerging Technology

Today’s cutting-edge technology is tomorrow’s obsolete technology. The rapid changes in the adoption of IT platforms mean CIOs must stay on top of the latest technology breakthroughs to maintain an edge on the competition. Once considered the barrier to making changes, CIOs now must adapt a business philosophy that makes them change leaders.

The Bottom Line: CIOs Need to Develop Critical Business Skills

CIOs must dig much deeper into their business models to gain keen insight into their customers. Understanding consumer behavior requires remaining on top of the economic trends that drive organizational business strategies. The old CIO maintained a narrow focus on IT issues.

The new CIO must think of the big picture to make a successful transition from tech to strategy. They also must deliver great leadership with a clear vision, as well as empathy for all members of the organization.

Additional Resources

From Legacy Systems to Hyperautomation: How IT Leaders Can Modernize Their IT Structure

The Role of IT in Driving Business Innovation and Transformation

Building a Future-Proof Infrastructure for Digital Transformation


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