CIOs must adapt to changing business landscape or become obsolete

businesses unprepared forCIOs must play a leading role in driving business growth and innovation by recommending and deploying new technologies – as opposed to managing legacy IT systems – if their roles are to remain relevant. This is a key finding in a new report: ‘The CIO as Manager, Leader and Entrepreneur,’ published by Advanced 365.

The report was written by eminent IT strategist David Smith (Chief Executive, Global Futures and Foresight) and Nathaniel Suda, (Consulting Director, Advanced 365) and draws on recent research examining trends in IT leadership management conducted by analyst firms including Gartner, Forrester and PwC.

The report highlights the role of the CIO as the manager, leader and entrepreneur. It identifies a rapid increase in the number of organisations that are appointing Chief Digital Officers (CDOs) and Chief Strategic Information Officers (CSIOs), in order to benefit from the digitisation of operations, products and services. It is predicted that one quarter of all companies worldwide will have appointed a Chief Digital Officer by 2015.

The creation of these new roles highlights widespread board-level concern regarding traditional IT investment models and the role played by CIOs in instigating technical changes in order to drive business growth.

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In many organisations, eighty five percent of total IT outlay is focused on maintaining existing systems, leaving just fifteen percent for new initiatives that support organisations on a strategic level.

Neil Cross, Managing Director from Advanced 365, comments: “IT departments are often described as cautious, risk averse and only interested in operational matters. The appointment of CDOs and CSIOs indicates that many senior management teams are frustrated by the fact that IT remains centred on day-to-day maintenance as opposed to driving change and growth.

“The report indicates that between forty and fifty percent of CIOs have yet to move beyond researching innovation-driving technologies such as mobile, the cloud and social media – and this is particularly worrying. CIOs need to work harder to meet the dual challenges of recommending technologies aligned to business strategy while continuing to ensure the smooth running of infrastructure and systems.”

The report includes the results of a survey of 382 IT and non-IT business professionals. When asked if IT is primarily a maintenance function as opposed to an innovation engine, 39 percent of IT professionals agreed versus 54 percent of non-IT professionals.

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Cross concludes: “If CIOs can re-establish themselves as expert advisers to the board, trusted to make IT recommendations that are closely mapped to business strategy then the perception of IT will almost certainly change for the better. We work closely with CIOs and their teams to help them meet their strategic and operational goals and ensure that IT projects provide a tangible return on investment.”

The report – ‘The CIO as Manager, Leader and Entrepreneur’ – addresses the age of the technology start-up and the assumption that high-technology and entrepreneurship are synonymous. It concludes that the CIO needs to function as a manager, modernising systems via migration to the cloud; a leader, who finds new ways to use collaboration technologies to connect people; and an entrepreneur, who can integrate technology with strategy to provide tangible business benefits. The report is available from Advanced 365’s website.

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