The Seven New Avatars Of CIO

by Sohini Bagchi    May 29, 2014

seven avatars

If you think that the CIO is no longer relevant in the current technology landscape, think again! He is very much there and can come in different avatars in the digital era. Emerging IT trends such as the cloud, big data, and mobile applications, are prompting CIOs to play distinct and multiple roles, in order to stay relevant in a digital world. Here are some of the key roles of CIO:

Chief digital officer

Despite some companies having a chief digital officer, one in five CIOs already acts in this capacity, according to Gartner, leading digital commerce and channels and being responsible for evolving the business to embrace digital transformation. If CIOs wish to stay relevant in the digital enterprise, he should present himself as a partner who can transform business processes around the potential of digital rather than remain a hardcore techie, says Norman Lonergan, Global Advisory Leader at EY. “The CIOs who can master this, however, are finding their roles more influential and more strategically engaged than ever before,” he says.

Read: Are You A Digital-Ready CIO?

Chief outsourcing officer

The term core competency needs a new dimension in today’s business landscape.  While outsourcing in the age of cloud computing is key, the CIO should decide what can be outsourced and what must be kept in-house, believes Vishal Anand Gupta, Joint Project Director HiMS and Manager Systems at the Calcutta Medical Research Institute. He adds that IT organizations need to focus on activities that add value or differentiate.

Chief cloud broker

It is important for CIOs to become adept at evaluating, adopting, and orchestrating a collection of cloud applications, services, and providers, whether they are in a private, public, or hybrid cloud. They must also ensure that data in the cloud is secure and well managed, while moving to a single, integrated system that from multiple management tools for better manageability. In such a scenario, Gupta states that the CIOs role is close to a cloud broker, which changes the focus from technology to service relationships.

Chief insight officer

While everyone is excited about big data, CIOs do have the potential to turn it from a buzz into reality by adding value to raw data. Mark Ridley, senior director of NetApp writes in his blog that the IT department can become an organization’s intelligence agency, providing insights, analysis, and warnings that help the rest of the organisation make smarter decisions. For this to happen, the CIO must wear the cap of the Chief Insight officer.

Chief innovation officer

In the increasingly digital world, the CIOs are expected to become chief innovation officers, leading the way to new business opportunities and newer ways of doing business. V C Gopalratnam, CIO Cisco Globalisation believes, “CIOs should transform themselves into business engineers rather than IT engineers, especially with the emergence of newer technologies.” To read the full interview, click here.

CIOs are currently reporting increased knowledge and expertise in emerging technology, according to a Economist Intelligence report and are likewise, seeing a positive impact on their businesses from investments in emerging technology, with nearly half of them saying they are “well positioned to promote ‘game-changing’ innovations.”

The CIO as recruiter

While CIOs can rely on a good HR department to deliver the staff they need, in recent times he must also play a much more active role in the process, notes a recent McKinsey report. For example, high demand for skilled data and analytics practitioners means the CIO must get deeply involved in recruiting and retention. In that capacity, the CIO can serve as a valuable adviser to business and functional leaders as they build their base of talent.

The CIO as venture capitalist

The CIO has always had to find the right balance between keeping the lights on and enabling business performance. With big data, CIOs face the added task of seeking new ideas that will challenge the business’s status quo and helping executives seize opportunities and confront obstacles before analytics start-ups, competitors, customers, or suppliers do. In this, the CIO’s role resembles that of a venture capitalist.

The list on the new CIO roles can go on…but for now these seven avatars are good enough to make you think how strongly the CIO can evolve and assume responsibility for hunting for digital opportunities and harvesting value.