For today’s CIO, challenges are plentiful – the business world is changing at a breakneck speed thanks to technology-driven innovation.
As a result, the role of IT leaders has become much more complex.
This is particularly true for the CIO, who must learn to keep up with emerging technology, fully integrate IT into the business, and make sure that they themselves remain relevant and useful.
In this post, we’ll look at three of the biggest obstacles facing today’s CIO and how to overcome them.
3 CIO Challenges that Must Be Overcome in 2021
The world has been changing for years, and that pace of change accelerated in 2020.
This rapid rate of change presents opportunities for the modern CIO, as well as challenges.
Here are three that must be overcome in the years ahead:
1. Keeping up with the ever-changing IT landscape
In the coming years, CIOs across the world will need to successfully deliver digital products and services that are more innovative, highly customized, and increasingly competitive.
This responsibility extends far beyond their traditional role as an operations manager.
To keep up, CIOs will need to:
Understand the pros, cons, and value of emerging technology. Emerging technology, such as AI and blockchain, promise to deliver new forms of value to both businesses and their customers. Since CIOs are organizations’ IT leaders, it is usually up to them to keep up with and capitalize on these emerging technologies.
Implement a competitive digital transformation strategy. Research from consultancies such as Gartner and Tata Consultancy Services suggested that CIOs should lead digital change.
Build and maintain a skilled IT team. Perhaps the biggest obstacle facing today’s CIO is a severe shortage of talent. PwC, among others, have highlighted the growing digital skills gap and the need for talented professionals – particularly in IT departments.
Naturally, these responsibilities fall outside the purview of the operational CIO, which is why many CIOs now identify as transformational CIOs.
Of course, this also represents another challenge that must be overcome:
2. Staying relevant and valuable in the digital-first organization
The CIO’s role is no longer simply to manage IT services and operations, but also to make strategic IT decisions based on the needs of the business, the workplace, and the workforce.
Becoming a business leader, not just an operational executive. Since CIOs are being called upon to lead strategic initiatives, they must also learn to manage teams, projects, and organizational change programs.
Learning new job skills, managerial skills, and leadership skills. Expanding one’s role in the modern business is easier said than done, of course. An operational CIO who wishes to become a transformational CIO, for instance, must actually learn new skills to deliver on their new responsibilities. A few CIO skills to focus on include soft skills, managerial skills, and leadership skills.
Keeping up with the fast-changing digital landscape. Staying updated on emerging technology is crucial, as mentioned above. But to add value to their organizations, CIOs must look beyond technology at how technology impacts business and what must be done to keep up. For instance, advocating for agile business practices, digital business models, and digital workplace cultures are a few ways CIOs can stay relevant and useful.
Of course, leading digital transformation presents an opportunity for CIOs to add more value to the organization – but it’s not easy or quick, and it doesn’t happen overnight.
Rather, it’s a long-term journey that requires the right digital strategy and culture, as we’ll see below.
3. Integrating IT throughout the organization
Technology can change the way business is done, but only if it is fully integrated into an organization.
With the CIO’s help, IT will become an enabler, transforming how businesses operate and how they add value in the marketplace.
Though it can be difficult to integrate IT and lead digital transformation, with the right approach, it is certainly doable.
Here are a few ways CIOs can begin to phase out legacy IT systems and business processes:
Build a workplace that is digital-first. A digital workplace is one that embeds digital technology into the very fabric of business processes, workflows, the mindsets of employees, and the corporate culture, as we’ll see below.
Cultivate a digital-first corporate culture. When employees embrace technology, it will be much easier to adopt new technologies and digital-first ways of working. Ultimately, a digitally savvy workplace is essential for building a digital-first organization.
Establish dialogues with other senior business leaders. To succeed in the current economic and competitive environment, business leaders will need to improve communication across the organization – both internally and externally. To enable this, Gartner says that CIOs will need to establish a working dialogue with the rest of the C-suite, as well as others, such as the board and their direct reports.
Creating a digital organization, in short, requires that CIOs not only reinvent business processes and models, it also requires rethinking the very role that IT plays in the business.
After all, only when the workforce and the workplace operate from a digital mindset can the organization itself become a digital leader.