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Today’s Blueprint for CIO success: A Shift in Mindset

Chief information officers can help lead organizations through today’s complex macro environment, if they broaden their purview to areas that deliver business outcomes faster.

Being a chief information officer isn’t what it used to be -- and that’s a good thing. CIOs today have a larger remit that goes far beyond technology priorities, into responsibilities that deliver against critical business metrics. The technology strategy has become the business strategy. So, it’s no surprise that 40% of CEOs say that the CIO is their top partner, according to a recent Deloitte survey.

As CIOs take on this evolved role in their organizations, they must also advance their thinking. Here are three critical areas CIOs must keep top of mind to thrive in the next year and beyond:

1. Create business value faster

Until very recently, technology was largely seen as an enabler. While the value of technology has never been in doubt, for a long time, organizations struggled to demonstrate it in terms that business partners understood -- like revenue, margin, and customer NPS.

That’s changing. Today, sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic and the many other disruptions over the past few years, more organizations understand the relationship between digital transformation and value creation. Reflecting this shift, 95% of CEOs are pursuing a digital-first strategy. The data shows why. Digital-first companies see twice the revenue growth of non-digital companies, according to analyst firm Valoir Research.

For CIOs, these changes, while invigorating, need to be focused on investments in technologies that deliver business results faster. This requires careful tracking against overall business objectives and taking accountability for outcomes.

2. Foster employee experience and customer growth

Today, everyone is in the service business. Yes, that includes CIOs.

As remote and hybrid work became the norm, the employee experience has gone digital. From interviewing and onboarding to collaboration and learning and development -- technology has become the glue holding organizations together. Given the CIO’s responsibility in shaping the strategy behind the tools their teams rely on, it’s clear that they play a central role in both defining that employee experience and creating a talent advantage for their organizations.

Beyond harnessing top talent, employee experience also has a direct impact on the customer experience, which has become core to organizations’ ability to attract and retain customers. With more businesses declaring that customer experience is now their organization’s leading competitive advantage, the onus is on CIOs to ensure that they are making the right technology decisions to equip employees to deliver the experiences customers want.

3. Drive innovation through automation

This is a challenging moment for businesses everywhere. Internally, organizations are living through a time of immense complexity, requiring disparate teams and employees to work together in new, collaboration-first ways. The external environment is equally fraught: High inflation, constrained supply chains, talent shortages, and hybrid work have all driven organizations to increase scrutiny on their operations. The current business landscape is creating incredible demand for net new innovations that can solve these unprecedented challenges. CIOs are in a unique position to leverage technology to increase innovation power within their organizations.

One key area they should be looking at is automation. Consider the role that automation can play in helping organizations wring more efficiency out of their existing internal resources. For example, operations teams are constantly flooded with customer and employee requests. By automating large portions of these processes, such as offering self-service tools for common tasks, organizations can serve their customers better and free up their teams to focus on more strategic parts of the business that can drive growth.

Automation’s unique ability to connect modern, legacy, or unstructured data sources, can help organizations reduce complexity, boost resilience, and accelerate innovation. In fact, the 2022 JP Morgan CIO Survey found that CIOs were planning to accelerate IT purchases and digital transformation to drive efficiency, remove tech debt, and invest for the future.

The CIO’s Moment to Shine

Over the past year, experimentation has taken a backseat. As organizations navigate today’s complex macro environment, they need to focus their investments on technologies that deliver business outcomes faster. The CIO plays a significant role in leading through this shift.

Editor's Choice
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek
John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing