The New Role of the CIO: Business Transformation Leader

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Changing business models means the role of company executives will inevitably evolve as well. In this guide, originally published in Intelligent CIO, Zuora CIO Alvina Antar explains how the role of the CIO is changing and why it matters.

Technological advancements in technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), advanced data analytics, and artificial intelligence (AI) have ushered in what many commentators are dubbing the Fourth Industrial revolution.

In combination with the integration of millennials and generations X and Y into the workforce, we’re now seeing a unique global business landscape like never before.

In this new landscape, businesses are rapidly adjusting their best practices to align with the acceleration of technology adoption and the need to digitally transform. According to a 2017 report by Gartner, two-thirds of all business leaders claim that keeping pace with digitisation is a prerequisite for success in today’s economy.

That includes managing changing business models, not least the significant shift towards subscription models across a number of industries. In the future, business growth will only come from subscriptions.

Here are three reasons why the CIO plays a vital role in ensuring that this shift is successful:

#1: The CIO Transforms Company Objectives into Tangible Outcomes

According to Gartner’s 2018 CIO Agenda Survey, 95% of CIOs expect their jobs to be significantly reshaped due to digital transformation. A significant increase in technology spending is being liberated from the CIO’s grasp and allocated to that of other business units.

No longer is the CIO the technology-facing executive of the past. CIOs are more closely aligned with broader company-wide objectives than ever before.

Their role has shifted from the “manufacturer” of IT systems to the “enabler” of business transformation, with success no longer measured by the effective construction and deployment of such systems, but instead by the tangible outcomes that these integrated technologies can deliver to a business.

#2: IT Systems Don’t Just Meet Business Needs, They Drive Innovation

CIOs have a deep understanding of their business and its strategy for growth. They have a strategic vision and the right plan to ensure all systems are able to meet a variety of business needs.

CIOs are surpassing what were deemed to be the traditional demands associated with their role. They now possess the traits typical of business leaders – i.e. confidence, flexibility, curiosity, trustworthiness, respect, sensitivity, and self-awareness.

Above all, they are breaking free of their comfort zones and pushing the boundaries of the role. With new business models, adopting an open-minded approach is vital for the IT function to not only be relevant but essential for organizations across industries.

There has never been a better time for our IT leaders to welcome and benefit from change. Although risk is consistently a key determinant in business decisions, innovation has long been a key determinant of success.

CIOs have become nurturers of innovation and brokers of these technologies to meet evolving organisational demands.

#3: CIOs Have the Best Understanding of Your Company’s Products

Crucially, incumbents of the role have the freedom to best deploy the technologies that may be outside the understanding of those they lead in the IT department. Doing this relies on sourcing and developing fresh and promising talent through the ranks. New hires should share in the vision of a successful IT function – i.e. one that works in conjunction with the wider business in a combined bid to achieve its overall goals.

The CIO is the only person to have a true understanding of a company’s end-to-end functional and technical blueprint, giving them the platform to spearhead new growth initiatives and overcome challenges.

It’s time for CIOs to transform their knowledge into meaningful business impact.

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