The modern-day CIO: Much more than just an IT gatekeeper

By : |September 25, 2018 0

Makarand Joshi, Area Vice President & Country Head, India Subcontinent, Citrix

Progressing consumer needs, increased competition and a rise in the number of digital offerings have paved the way for a technology led business landscape. This paradigm shift caused by rampant digital transformation has led to the drastic evolution of the role of the Chief Information Officer (CIO), who is now in charge of making sense of the complex technologies in play. Keeping in mind the dynamic nature of technology, this evolution is expected to be an ongoing one – demanding CIOs to constantly reinvent themselves by acquiring new skill sets.

C-level roles are proliferating in the digital enterprise and several organizations are increasingly establishing a Chief Data Officer or Chief Digital Officer. Having said this, most enterprises have been well on their way to becoming fully-digitized, data-driven businesses, with the CIO responsible for related initiatives. For CIOs, this means they need to foster their current and future digitization efforts, to make sure that their role moves much beyond just keeping legacy systems up and running.

Makarand Joshi, Area Vice President & Country Head, India Subcontinent, Citrix

Makarand Joshi, Area Vice President & Country Head, India Subcontinent, Citrix

It is, therefore, safe to assume that CIOs will be leading the way forward for the digital organization of tomorrow. Let’s consider some of the finer aspects that will be crucial for a CIO in these coming few years –

1. Active Boardroom Member – With data being a part of everyday processes, the CIO’s job requires him/her to be a part of critical boardroom discussions. He must be thought of as a business partner within the organization. It is pertinent for organizations to stress on this point considering the strategic role of the IT department at the heart of the business’ value chain. Business leaders have been privy to the added value of IT and how it can positively impact their company’s bottom line.

Having said this, the CIO is charged with leading the C-suite in the digital frontier. He must stress on the importance of digitization efforts to not only drive business growth but to also stand toe-to-toe with the competition. Although the technical measures to be undertaken may prove hard to explain given the constant change in business models due to disruption, the CIO must make a laboured attempt to ensure costs are consolidated for technical upgradation.

2. Technology Aggregator – Many organizations have a gamut of digitized solutions that are spread out across the enterprise. This includes a complex mix of services, applications and multiple cloud providers. Further, these technologies need to function together seamlessly to make the most of the data at hand.

A CIO acts as a unifying force to make sense of this complex mix of technologies across departments and provides a consolidated roadmap for the way forward. The CIO needs to be the service aggregator, enabling digitization for each line of business within the organization. This would ensure that a CIO is paving the way for a digital-first strategy and is weaving technology integration into the very fabric of a sound business approach.
3. Security Custodian – While cloud-based storage has been on the rise, this gives scope for external malicious parties the opportunity to penetrate your internal systems and compromise sensitive organizational data. This mandates the CIO to lead the IT team and guide employees on the security procedures and protocols in place and the way forward in the event of a data breach. Further, with EU’s GDPR that has recently been set into place, the CIO of every organization is tasked with the responsibility of ensuring that they are fully compliant.

4. Skill development expert – The hunt for professionals skilled in relevant fields of technology like data scientists, AI specialists, multi-cloud software architects, human/machine interface developers, robotics experts etc. has been on the radar of most organizations around the world. With the immense growth of new age technologies, this hunt for highly skilled professionals will only rise.

This solidifies the role of a CIO in not only attracting the right talent to pull through the digitization efforts of the company but also in re-skilling existing employees in these areas. This entails procuring all the gadgets and resources for these employees as well as conducting internal trainings and hands-on sessions.

Having said this, the CIO is also required to go beyond the boundaries of technology to also impart team motivation, mentoring, conflict resolution, career guidance and crisis management capabilities. In addition, his also role also necessitates equipping his team with the capability of amplifying the benefits of a long-term IT investment.

To conclude, the role of IT has been undergoing a massive transformation with new critical elements making the modern CIO’s role more complex, demanding and multi-faceted. Leading the digital-driven enterprise for tomorrow makes a CIO’s role challenging and crucial. CIOs must, therefore, rise to this opportunity to lead the way forward.

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