Cio responsibilities

7 Ways CIO Responsibilities Will Change in 2021

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CIO responsibilities have been changing over the past several years, thanks to digital innovation and disruption. 

Digital technology has become central to the modern business, and it will only increase in importance in the years ahead.


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As a result, CIOs will become increasingly responsible for business activities that generate growth and revenue. In fact, in the digital economy, a company’s success may depend heavily on CIOs’ ability to design and lead digital business initiatives.

Below, we’ll look at a few ways CIO responsibilities will evolve in 2021 and the decade ahead.

How CIO Responsibilities Will Change in 2021 and Beyond

Here are a few areas that CIOs will need to include in the scope of their responsibilities:

1. Business strategy and outcomes

Today, business strategy and digital strategy are often interdependent. 

Digital-first businesses, as we know, have driven the modern economy forward. Amazon, Google, Netflix, and other disruptive innovators have reshaped the business landscape as we know it.

That will not change as we move forward into the rest of the decade. 

For CIOs, this means they will need to expand their purview beyond IT services delivery to include business strategy and performance.

2. Revenue and growth

Revenue-generating activities have entered into the CIO’s domain, according to research from IDG.

For the CIO who is used to IT services management (ITSM), the idea of generating profits may be new and it will undoubtedly require new skills and a new mindset.

Digital innovation often lies at the heart of growth-oriented businesses in today’s economy. 

This means that CIOs will not only need to think like businessmen, as mentioned above, they will also need to think like growth-oriented innovators – and they will need to demonstrate their added value to the board and the C-suite.

3. Digital transformation leadership

Digital transformation has become the norm in today’s economy.

As businesses evolve, adopt new digital workflows, and build digital-first strategies, they must elect leaders to drive those transformative efforts. And this is where CIOs come in.

When CIOs have the proper business skill set and the proper technical background, they are ideal candidates to lead digital transformation efforts.

In many companies, CIOs are responsible for designing digital transformation programs, as well as planning and executing those efforts. 

As we move into the digital future, we should expect this trend to continue.

4. Change management

Organizational change and digital transformation go hand-in-hand.

Understanding change management, the discipline dedicated to implementing organizational change projects, will become useful for CIOs.

While project management and the logistical aspects of change are essential, it is even more important to understand the human side of the equation.

After all, employees are the ones who drive change projects forward. Without their support, change programs can and do fail.

Understanding and applying change management can help CIOs deliver better outcomes, reduce employee resistance, boost workforce productivity, and more.

5. Project management

IT services management often relies on the implementation of straightforward frameworks and workflows, such as ITIL.

However, when CIOs are called upon to implement digital-first change initiatives, they must think like project managers, rather than IT managers.

Project management requires a number of new activities, such as project planning, goal-setting, budgeting, leading teams, and so forth.

IT leaders who have been responsible for product development, such as app development, may be more used to this type of workflow.

6. Culture change

In many cases, organizational change hinges upon a company’s culture. 

A workforce that is not used to digital technology, for instance, may resist new tools and processes. As a result, they may end up causing a project to fail.

While CIOs have not traditionally been responsible for culture change efforts, they will be, according to Gartner.

https://twitter.com/WalkMeInc/status/1204783087508426754

There is no “ideal” or “perfect” culture for any business – every company is unique and should possess its own unique culture.

However, there are certain traits and mindsets that can be useful, particularly in today’s digital economy. 

For example, SpencerStuart suggests that a learning culture will become essential for success in the digital era. 

Likewise, others have pointed out that openness to change, self-reliance, digital savviness, and a data-driven mindset are all valuable traits in the contemporary organization.

7. Additional IT functions

According to IDG’s 2020 State of the CIO (see link above), many companies are expanding their IT department’s responsibilities.

Among other things, these new responsibilities include areas such as cybersecurity, operations, data privacy and compliance, and customer experience.

Taking on additional IT tasks such as these will undoubtedly add to the CIO’s already-full workload. 

On the one hand, this means that CIOs will need to ensure they have the proper skill set and infrastructure in place to handle these tasks. But it also means that organizations as a whole may need to rethink and redesign their IT departments to accommodate these new tasks.

Final Thoughts

The future of the CIO may not be written in stone, but we can draw some clear conclusions from today’s trends.

The CIO of the future, for instance, will become less technical and more business-oriented. 

To succeed in that role, it is important for CIOs to rethink their approach to business, acquire the right skills, and begin to act not just like managers, but also like leaders.

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