CIO: from technical to business leader
Understanding what are the most anticipated skills of today’s and future technology leaders
December 2019 | February 2020The role of the technology leader within organizations – generally as Chief Information Officer (CIO) – undergoes a significant transformation as the understanding of current technology trends and new corporate structures, for which technology has become an important cornerstone of value generation, evolves. Given this scenario, the expected capabilities of those who aspire to lead in the area are to actively monitor and foster these changes.
Some market movements contribute to accelerate this transformation process. With a generation of professionals accustomed to communication, social networking and quick access to information, the CIO’s position as a business partner, which develops effective strategies for the organization, is increasingly highlighted. If he was the IT manager before, now he is a strategist and the most important operational leader, just below the CEO.
Being able to anticipate trends and being a protagonist of these changes is one of the key skills expected of the “CIO of the future”, who should lead the symbiosis between countless innovation and disruption fronts, balancing the application of new tools with the real business needs, in order to strengthen it. This new context requires the CIO to closely follow the company’s direction and strategy, not only to meet operational demands, but to drive transformation toward the future of IT and excellence.
How to achieve and develop the skills needed in a future that goes through daily changes, with constant uncertainties? Deloitte’s global “CIO Survey 2018/19” survey indicates that CIOs must develop themselves as change instigators and business co-creators in order to align the organization’s objectives with operational excellence in IT.
Behavioral and relationship skills are two important and expected characteristics of the technology leader, so that he can position himself as a link between the core of the operation and the value generation, mastering the use of technology for maintenance and expansion of the company’s development. In the near future, the CIO will tend to invest their time in interactions and relationships rather than operational activities, bringing them closer to executives, gaining eminence and propriety to guide strategy and digital transformation.
With the rapid advancement of business digitization, the CIO also has to reinvent themselves with regard to how to allocate investments and the development of their own team, fostering the inclusion, application and expansion of technology throughout the company. Still according to the “CIO Survey 2018/19”, methodologies such as agile and DevOps are no longer optional, but real needs to modernize business. These aspects require a review of the IT performance model, now focused on operational business improvements, incremental changes in strategic procedures and, especially, innovation.
Another relevant point is to prioritize digital transformation initiatives across the organization. Initially, we need to increase the maturity and reception of new operational structures, optimizing current processes. When technology trends are intrinsically positioned in the organizational culture, it is time to invest in completely new (technology-rich) product development actions or even the creation of revenue-generating business models and services that go beyond the company’s core business. Advances in information technology and its tools have enabled companies to make possible the innovative ideas that can completely change their markets.
However, just as technology delivers value, it can generate vulnerabilities, especially related to unstructured adoptions and without proper strategic planning.
Navigating this torturous and unpredictable sea is the role of the CIO, who must focus efforts on developing a resilient organizational culture, a high-capacity and high-performance team, and management aligned with business needs and market trends.
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