For a long time, the Chief Information Officer or CIO called the shots in IT purchasing. However, with digital transformation being the order of the day, IT has got far more embedded in business and also with cloud turning IT into Op-ex, technology spending power is moving away from the CIO’s reporting line, towards the rest of the business. The question that now comes up is: Where does this shift leave the CIO?
Gartner’s 2018 CIO Agenda Survey results show that 95% of CIOs expect their jobs to change or be reshuffled due to digitalization in the next four years. From that sense the next logical augmentation of the CIO role is the Chief Integration Officer – a corporate executive in charge of ensuring the coordination of all interacting systems within the enterprise and its extended environments. That coordination involves not only information systems but people, ideas and processes – weaving different roles and functions needed to make an organization ‘future-ready’ in an ever-evolving digital era.
Read more: Why CIOs Need to Break that Glass Ceiling
Technology management expert Colin Beveridge, in his article, “The Future CIO”, observes that the role of the Chief Integration Officer would be unequivocally recognized as a top-table function, rather than the current uncertain position of a Chief Information Officer who is often kept beyond arm’s length from the top-table.
For example, A recent IBM research shows that one of today’s top priorities for organizations is to inject data-driven insights into every marketing decision. The use of technologies such as augmented reality and virtual reality, sensors, real-time social listening and several such tech-based marketing decisions would make the CMO and the CIO collaboration even more potent.
Another very important relationship in the C-suite is IT’s integration with finance, which is still seen as siloed and disjointed. In a blog post on Workday.com, Steve Dunne suggests that part of the problem is incompatible team cultures that are likely to hinder understanding and communication. He goes on to quote Deloitte Consulting’s Principal Matt Schwenderman to say that “The CFOs that I consider to be innovative look to the CIO for ways to improve their own function, and are using the CIO to bring knowledge and skills that can be leveraged by finance.”
At the same time, with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and other regional regulatory norms, most companies are now obliged to comply with several guidelines to manage their IT security landscapes. To properly work toward addressing those gaps in people, processes and technology, CISO along with their CIO need to evolve their organization’s guidelines to ensure data security governance.
The integration of various roles and functions is definitely a challenge, but Vineet Bhardwaj, Head IT, Godrej Properties Limited, sees it as an essential survival strategy. “I see the CIO’s role evolving even further into that of a business transformer, constantly building path-breaking innovations. Considering his stronghold in technology, CIO is still best placed to become business partner – integrating various roles and technologies to deliver business value,” he says.
Integrating various functions
Experts believe, today’s CIO must establish essential points of connection among all elements and establish and oversee policies, procedures and processes for their integration.
In other word, the (new) CIO role focuses less on running infrastructure and more on creating the procedures required to manage that infrastructure. As studies show that in many organizations, the chief digital officer (CDO) and that of the CIO role is merging for good. Within the corporate structure, the chief technology officer (CTO) might report to the chief integration officer, while the chief integration officer reports directly to the CEO.
To conclude, IT is no longer considered simply an operational function, but a value creator that puts the CIO in a central business role. To ensure proper integration, McKinsey researchers note in a 2017 survey, “IT leaders should raise their skills, influence and align with the C-suite, as well as leverage technology to move the business innovation agenda forward.” And only the ‘new CIO’ can ensure that.