The role of the postmodern CIO The year 2016 is showing changes in the IT industry, majorly affecting the role the CIO within the organisation. This position has shifted from being seen as a mere IT manager, to a business partner involved in decision-making that could potentially change the entire organisation. CIO’s are no longer simply solving business problems with IT solutions. Now, they are more forward-thinking in their approach to the business as they look to the future of technological advancements and how these can affect and improve their organisation. The postmodern CIO does not have to deal with the shift to digitalisation, as this era has already passed. Now, they are thinking about what might be next, and how to anticipate these kinds of changes so that the organisation can be fully prepared long in advance. Not only should the CIO be attempting to anticipate change, they should be looking to maximise these shifts for the benefit of the organisation, and use them to potentially advance the business in general, increasing productivity, growing revenue, building a brand, and ensuring a constant trajectory of improvement from the top down. CIO’s are moving away from the tech-heavy role and taking up a place in developing business strategies alongside other executives, essentially approaching enterprise IT from a business point of view and establishing their position as the most effective person to lead IT transformation.
Although the CIO is part of the decision-making process, there is still a need to ‘sell’ the IT solution to partners in the organisation, as it integral to the progress of the company to ensure that adopting new IT methods reap a valuable return on the investement. This means that innovation from the side of the CIO is essential to the business process. Cost-optimisation is an essential outcome when surveying potential IT systems, as it is important to depict how processes can save, and make, the company money, in order to convince partners of the system’s importance, and overall, to generate revenue for the organisation. The CIO needs to add this kind of measurable value to the company in order to take their rightful place as the ‘go to’ person to lead digitalisation in the organisation. Disruptive technology is changing organisations rendering some ideas and processes obsolete. CIO’s have to look to the future in this unpredictable environment to ensure that disruptive technology forms part of the organisation’s strategy to avoid surprises.
One of the key advantages of the current IT environment is the readily available, large amount of data that can be used in various ways. Instead of CIO’s using their intuition and industry knowledge, they can now use the data that is available to them to understand the end-user, and the company and its employees. It is essential for the organisation to be able to respond to the modern customer, who is technologically active, which can be achieved by engaging with data in order to understand and serve the customer. Data can also be used to show the progress of an IT function, allowing the company to be able to gauge whether or not the CIO is making the right decisions. Since the pool of data is so large, the CIO needs to ask the right questions in order to measure and analyse the system. This method can also be used to discover potential downfalls or areas that need attention for the purpose of setting goals and identifying future pain points and solutions thereof.
This data can be channelled to pinpoint potential security threats which are developing on a daily basis and could prove to be destructive to the organisation. The CIO needs to be proactive in assessing the organisation’s cyber security situation, and in implementing security measures to ensure the safety of the organisation’s IT. From both a technical and a governance point of view, the CIO needs to have processes in place to effectively predict, and respond to security threats which could potentially be disastrous for the company. The CIO needs to be proactive in maintaining security and identifying threats by using analytics and aligning themselves with developments in IT security to avoid enabling gaps for cybercriminals. A major concern, in terms of security, is the Internet of Things (IoT). Although having various connected devices can be beneficial, the CIO needs to realise the potential threat involved with IoT. More connected devices means a higher risk of security breaches. Many organisations have not optimised their security systems to include IoT security, and they should be doing so as it aligns with the proactive, forward-thinking governance essential to the postmodern CIO. IoT can also be optimised for the benefit of the organisation to enhance productivity through easily accessible systems, as well as the automation of some processes. IoT can be used to transform IT into a more functional, system-enhancing tool by maintaining the notion of the organisation’s business strategy while looking into the future through an IT lens.
2016 has seen the rise of the human-centred CIO who is concerned with leadership and improving functionality for the benefit of the organisation as a whole. A large part of this is dealing with vendors and solution providers with whom the CIO needs to develop meaningful relationships with from their inception and throughout the interaction. This is integral to ensuring cost-optimisation, speed of integration, risk assessment and management, as well as a generally seamless integration process.
The postmodern CIO needs to understand the organisation from the top down, and ensure alignment with the CEO as well as the rest of the company’s executives, by communicating in business terms with a business-centric IT vision. To hear some of the top IT executives in Africa present case studies, keynotes, and panel discussions on the latest trends in the CIO-sphere, attend the 8th Annual IT Leaders Summit on 15 & 16 March 2017 at the Century City Conference Centre.
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