Successful CIOs have become business leaders of digital business units or have empowered IT to create a digital backbone.
As digital transformation efforts progress, alongside organizational changes like the ones Adobe’s Stoddard describes, the CIO role continues to evolve. “Successful CIOs have become business leaders of digital business units or have empowered IT organizations to create the digital backbone to accelerate the move to hybrid cloud environments and new operating models,” says Steve Hall, partner and president at technology research and advisory firm ISG.
As Enterprisers’ Stephanie Overby recently reported, CIOs that struggle in these areas have lost some of their responsibilities to other functions or business units.
Rahul Singh, managing director with management consultancy Pace Harmon, describes the CIO as evolving into what he calls a “Chief Digital Innovation Officer,” helping the company grow and become a data-driven enterprise.“This step will require CIOs to gain a better understanding of not just new digital technologies and how to cost-effectively operate them, but also to better understand the specific business their enterprise is in and how IT can drive new revenue opportunities and accelerate company growth,” Singh says. “CIOs will need to sharpen their business skills and build relationships with the CEOs and GMs so they can collaborate as strategic partners.”
Change management skills continue to gain importance. “CIOs that do lead the digital transformation charge are asked to wear multiple hats – that of business strategist and change leader,” says Ankur Laroia, managing director at BDO Houston. “It’s not always a natural fit.”
The CIO role is also seeing a return of decision-maker clout with vendors and consultants in digital transformation work, versus line-of-business heads.
“We’ve seen a swing back towards IT as decision-makers as digital transformation starts to mature,” says Patrick Heffernan, senior analyst at Technology Business Research. “As it becomes increasingly clear that even the most CX-focused or operations-centric projects still come back to IT for change management, implementation, and sustainment, CIOs have re-assumed their place as the key decision-makers – and therefore the target, again, for IT services vendors and consultancies.”
One other trend to watch in the CIO role: The CIO will take on a bigger part of their organization’s people strategy.
“CIOs are increasingly being handed the keys to drive digital transformation throughout the organization, including areas that have been traditionally outside their purview,” says Chris Bedi, CIO at ServiceNow. He predicts CIOs will shape more HR issues in 2020.
“The CIO and CHRO are partnering more to make the employee experience as great as the customer experience.”
“Like the CIO, the CHRO is also stepping into a more strategic role, and as a result, the CIO and CHRO are partnering more to make the employee experience as great as the customer experience,” Bedi says. “IT and HR teams are aligned at a high level and want to create great experiences, but they’re also often focused on different initiatives. To achieve both objectives, IT and HR will begin to work together more closely to create a common framework and language, as well as a joint plan.”
Expect CIOs to take more of a lead on hiring and training for new skills and identifying who enterprises need to develop over the near- to medium-term, predicts Patrick Heffernan, senior analyst at Technology Business Research.“CIOs that are active now in setting the training agenda are the ones to watch,” he adds.