How a CIO Can Support the CEO

by | Aug 13, 2022 | C-Suite Dynamics, CIO Best Practices, Professional Growth & Careers

One glance at a corporate organizational chart shows the CEO at the top of the chart followed underneath by executive positions such as the CFO and Vice President of Product Development. Another executive position that answers to the CEO is the Chief Information Officer (CIO), who guides the company’s technological vision well into the 21st century. CIOs represent highly skilled technicians that keep the IT engine humming 24 hours a day, seven days per week.

A recent version of a corporation’s structure started to emerge during the COVID-19 pandemic when working onsite became a distant memory and the remote workplace took over company culture. Because of the dramatic transformation of the corporate workplace, CIOs across all industries, from hospitality-driven companies to businesses that manufactured auto parts, found a new role as a partner CEOs rely on to oversee daily operations.

As we move forward from the pandemic, CIOs must learn how to redefine their roles to assume more business management responsibilities, especially when it comes to managing the tech innovations that support a remote and highly mobile workforce.

How Can a CIO Support the CEO to Achieve Business Growth?

The COVID-19 pandemic has taught business leaders many lessons, but no other leader has learned more in such a short time than the CIO. Quickly understanding new technologies and then developing innovative approaches to managing remote workers has turned out to be one of the most important roles for a CIO. Instead of the CEO promoting new digital business strategies, the CIO now acts as the primary promoter of the new digital tools that help a company achieve growth. In effect, the CIO of your organization has transformed from a silent partner into an active senior-level executive who must collaborate with middle-level managers to implement cutting-edge technological solutions to common business problems.

Transforming into a more active role in business management represents a culture shock for many CIOs that historically have served CEOs in a complementary professional role. As we move towards the end of 2022, CIOs now have the responsibility to introduce new collaborative tools and self-managed portals that adapt to the rapidly growing remote workforce. The new CIO supports the CEO by educating executives about technology trends, as well as the obstacles that can disrupt those trends. CIOs have stepped away from their desks to engage vendors, as well as thought leaders, to learn more about the strategies that optimize productivity, while maintaining the human element of business management.

Gone are the days when a CIO stayed in an office all day trying to solve complex technological problems. The new CIO supports the CEO by taking a more active role in business management.

Changing the CIO-CEO Relationship

Companies that adapt to the new role of the CIO are nearly 50 percent more likely to achieve annual sales growth that exceeds 10 percent. CEOs that treat the CIO as a partner instead of a subordinate make better decisions to address today’s issues, while constantly modifying the direction of the company moving forward.

Let’s see how a CIO can help the CEO with making the right business decisions.

Improve the Accuracy of Data

Only one-third of the CEOs that responded to a recent EY survey stated that customers trust their companies with providing accurate data. The widening gap in trust presents a difficult obstacle to overcome for the growth and technological innovation of a company. To improve the accuracy of data, the CIO should coordinate with the CEO to introduce the automation of information technology processes for the company to use on a daily basis.

Emphasize the Human Element

One strategy CIOs should consider implementing to support the CEO in achieving business growth involves emphasizing the human element of technology. Although AI solutions to difficult business problems receive most of the focus for organizations in the private sector, recruiting, developing, and retaining the brightest minds in the IT industry represents one of the most effective ways a CIO can support the CEO.

Emphasizing the importance of human capital is a vital component of a successful business growth strategy.

Make ESG a Business Priority

Emphasizing the human element is one thing. Attaining the goal of improving the way your company recruits, develops, and retains the best IT talent is quite another thing. Making environmental, social, and governance (ESG) measures a business priority should help your company achieve its goal of attracting the brightest minds. Since the onset of the pandemic, employees across the business spectrum have voiced their intentions on making more of an impact in the business world.

Working closely in tandem with the CEO, implementing ESG measures allows those difference-making voices to be heard.

The Bottom Line: Managing the New CIO-CEO Partnership

Technology is like an underground resource that is ready to be tapped. The key to tapping into the vast resources offered by new technological tools is for the CEO and CIO to learn how to manage the new collaborative professional relationship. The post-pandemic CIO has assumed more of a business management role that depends heavily on the ability to attract, develop, and retain the most talented IT professionals in your industry.


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