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13 May, 2021;

6 min.

Tips for the CIO of the Future

What's the direction of modern leadership? How to evaluate and implement newest technologies and face transformation? Let's answer these questions and check how tech leaders can face future challenges.

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Greatly inspired by the article What makes the CIO of tomorrow? Five traits that matter, recently posted in the section Tech-Talk – Blogs by IT Leaders, I decided to share some insights that might determine the direction of modern leadership.

It’s not a secret that CIOs and CTOs will have to take on a myriad of new challenges growing on the market. Chief information officers working on developing digital products have to evaluate and implement a great list of technologies and face great transformation. Modern leaders must be aware that their companies should modernize their processes or… get out of the business.

With all those challenges in mind, read some tips and scenarios that may concern the true leader of tomorrow.

Adjusting the direct of the business with the IT strategy is the balance CIOs must keep.

CIO’s role will change – be prepared

Sure, your core keywords will express flexible adaptability to the market and company trends and requirements. But some extra responsibilities will come.

CTOs in modern IT departments need to focus not only on finding tech solutions to business problems but also boosting growth, cutting costs and protecting data.

The future’s CIO may also be responsible for human resources to lead trainings, security and at the same time focus on core tech planning and management. Well, that’s quite a set of skills and responsibilities for 1 person.

Don’t hurry into AI

Everyone and everything is buzzing about stepping into Artificial Intelligence and its implementation. Before you decide to embrace it, make sure that your company is ready for it.

Remember that every AI technology is different and some are more developed than others, like e.g. machine learning is adoptable for various purposes or tasks. Be able to recognize and categorize certain AI tech and make a list of those that you’ll perhaps need in your long-term business strategy:

“Technology plays a mere supporting role. What companies really need is bona fide corporate transformation, with an emphasis on strategic innovation for the long-term, and shared ownership.”

– Sundi Balu, Chief Information Officer, in Why Technological Adoption Doesn’t Equal Digital Transformation

Combining business goals with tech-led innovation = a hard nut to crack

Leaders of the future will experience the trend that buy-ins dictate and fund new IT projects. It requires looking beyond the TECH and focusing deeply on the business’ direction from CIOs. It is necessary to ensure the alignment of transformation and top executives’ goals.

Adjusting the direct of the business (finding new customers, changing targets, stepping into another market, cutting down expenditure) with the IT strategy is the balance a modern CIO should aim at.

Do not forget about the dark side of auto/trans-formation

AI, automation and finally the process of the transformation – always affects people. There are many voices that speak about the amplification of productivity without replacing employees is possible.

The most common example touches robots who support humans by saving their time and energy. But it can also show that now one worker can do the job of two workers with the support of robotics. The worries about jobs will still prevail in the process of digital transformation.

CIOs, in the fervor of sifting through new TECH, should develop a labor strategy. Combine education, trainings and tactics of retention with emerging digitalization to ensure that the staff in the organization will be maintained and business growth will not be endangered. It is a hard task as it requires leaders to work hard to find a happy medium in order to remain competitive.

Holistic vision in digital transformation

Digital transformation is a process that falls into 3 different but connected business lines:

  • delivering new competence and effectiveness on every executive head,
  • opening new areas for different depts (marketing, sales, etc).

The “transformational” chief officer have to create a strong bond with every LOB (line-of-business) manager and co-operate with them in order to know their aims and understand how technology would support the leaders/managers in achieving goals, solving problems and realizing tasks.

With the above under control, go beyond that. Use your knowledge and experience in recommending a universal solution/ fit that will positively impact various business areas.

Grow business but sustain talents

The tech will evolve, change and impact the business – what’s essential is talent, as it is becoming harder and harder to keep talented workers. We can guess that finding the right employees will be even harder in the future.

Futuristic digital transformation will impact many different areas of business, therefore CIOs will have to start looking for talents in various areas and employing experts fluent in one area with the goal to introduce them to another area of expertise (supporting and helping during this process).

Your approach has to be creative and brave. On the one hand focused on retaining talent and ready for upskilling on the other. You’ll have to surround yourself with those who are motivated, skilled, tech-fluent and ready for a faster growth.

Actively look for a chance to transform

CIOs who are innovative will not wait for an opportunity – they are ready to seek ways to grow and change. Those can be minor transformations, smaller projects – they are easier to succeed and more secure – for the start.

You can start with redesigning processes, development approaches to start the process of cloud-enabling the business. Eg: Moving a part of the dev environment onto the cloud = saving money + introducing agility into process(es).

Visionariness will pay off

The future cannot come without a vision. A modern CIOs’ role must be approached with an idea of the future’s IT-business picture. Scrutinize what’s happening on the market, withdraw conclusions and be able to show how the tech will facilitate digital change and how it will influence the business growth.

Chief Information Officers will be ready for the future success when they are fluent in:

  • Using tech for efficiency and boosting revenue.
  • Choosing the right r(evolutionary) way of development and trying to stick to it.
  • Thinking about technology in operations, productivity, recruitment and cooperating with other depts leaders, such as sales and marketing.
  • Understanding how different tools/products/platforms work together to be the most efficient.
  • Stimulating the transformation but also allowing executives to really understand the process of digitization.