Editor’s Question

Editor’s Question

What qualities should the present generation of CIOs pass on to the next generation of CIOs?

We asked those who work closely with CIOs what that next generation needs to learn from the ‘old school’.

Matthew Hardman, Chief Technology Officer Asia Pacific, Hitachi Vantara

CIOs need to start with how they exhibit a challenger mindset.

Matthew Hardman, Chief Technology Officer Asia Pacific, Hitachi Vantara

Where once IT strategy was determined by the IT department, it has increasingly become the foundation of every department in an organization, from the leaders to the front line. Everyone is being exposed to the latest trends and technologies from vendors.

The promise of innovations leading to massive competitive advantage and market gains can be intoxicating and some may feel they are labelled as laggards if not adopting the latest.

The challenger CIO needs to have the courage to cut through the noise and direct the conversation on innovation that enables demonstrable business impact.

Secondly, CIOs need to be able to demonstrate humility in their role.

Ten or twenty years ago, the rate of technology innovations hitting the market was more gradual than what you have today.

Today, they not only have to deal with differing vendors, but also different approaches and platforms within the same domain.

The capability for people to select and provision technologies to address business opportunities, accelerated by IaaS and SaaS, means that CIOs cannot be across them all, and while they can execute the previous quality of challenging the need for these innovations to address opportunity, they also need to have the humility to be open and listen to why someone perceives a technology or platform can help address an opportunity.

Finally, CIOs need to have a passion for people with a must-have eye on developing talent in three areas, the talent in the team, the talent in other teams in the organization and finally the development of talent external to the organization.

The development of talent in their own team will be foundational to help scale the appropriate behavioral characteristics that will underpin their business strategy, developing those individuals to make connections to the business outcomes being pursued or even developing their capabilities in stakeholder management, will help that team be viewed as a strategically advantageous.

Developing talent in other people’s teams will help to mitigate the risks of uncontrolled technology sprawl and over-provisioning.

Finally, in relation to the development of talent in the industry, if you only are identifying the talent needed to fill the open roles today, you have more than likely missed the talent you want.

Andrew Balmaks, Executive General Manager, Atturra’s Advisory and Consulting area and Co-founder/ CEO, Noetic Group

Andrew Balmaks, Executive General Manager, Atturra’s Advisory and Consulting area and Co-founder/ CEO, Noetic Group

Of all the qualities possessed by the current generation of CIOs, perhaps the most important is adaptability. The exponential rate of change occurring in Information Technology shows no sign of slowing and so CIOs need to be able to adapt their thinking and the approaches they are taking to meet the primary needs of the business.

For the next generation of CIOs, this challenge will be even more acute. Emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) will lead to advances that have not yet even been considered. Remaining adaptable and responsive will be critical.

Another quality shared by today’s successful CIOs is an ability to think and plan from the perspective of the wider business. If you think back 20 years, CIOs were very much focused on the nuts and bolts of designing, deploying and managing systems and networks they owned.

In 2023, this is no longer the case. The successful CIO is viewed by the business as both proactive and reactive in supporting the delivery of business outcomes.

The perspective of today’s CIOs is much broader as they need to consider not just technology but how it relates to business objectives and results. They need to ensure that IT adds as much value as possible to their organization’s activities and actively supports it in achieving stated goals.

In the future, this will be an even more important quality for CIOs. They will need to feel comfortable interacting with other C-level executives and provide advice and guidance in business terms.

Future CIOs will also be expected to offer a broad perspective on how technology is evolving and what challenges and opportunities this might create. Having a ‘big picture’ mindset will be important.

Today’s CIOs also have to be good people managers and this quality will continue to be required in the future. As well as helping to attract good quality staff, a CIO must also ensure that specialist skills provide the best value possible to the organization.

This will become increasingly challenging as AI-powered tools automate many of the tasks that currently require humans to complete. Keeping staff engaged, motivated and feeling professionally fulfillled will be a key task for all future CIOs.

Pieter DeGunst, Managing Director, Tecala Group

Pieter DeGunst, Managing Director, Tecala Group

At the end of the pandemic our team at Tecala suggested that mid-market organizations would ‘emerge stronger’. Those that would maintain their growth and profitability would be the organizations that had the agility to respond and adapt to rapidly changing conditions.

Effective risk management and Business Continuity strategies were important. But Digital Transformation programs, which has meant moving to the cloud and cloud-native SaaS applications, have helped many organizations adopt a flexible, hybrid work environment in which their people can be more productive and agile in how they work.

IDC predicts that 750 million cloud-native applications will be created globally by 2025 as businesses work toward building these sustainable digital value engines.

It’s interesting to see the research company use the term ‘digital value engines’ rather than just ‘apps’, because it makes the point that technology needs to deliver tangible and measurable value.

Fuelling these IT solutions and platform, of course, is data. This is an important catalyst in achieving success in Digital Transformation programs because it gets IT leadership teams closer to enjoying the best outcomes from their investments.

As little as three years ago, we were saying that intelligent automation and virtual assistant technologies were referred to as a ‘stretch goal’. Now they’re considered essential strategies for driving efficiencies, improving performance, delivering better customer services and empowering employees.

Organizations that aren’t embracing intelligent automation, specifically robotic process automation, Artificial Intelligence, and Machine Learning technologies, probably won’t exist in 10 years.

What this all comes down to, is an organization’s ability to continuously innovate.

But with innovation potentially taking an organization in any direction, it’s important to know where you need your innovation to take you. Therefore, emerging CIOs are likely to be very comfortable with the strategic technology roadmap (STR) because it future proofs the ICT strategy by aligning technology with your business objectives.

In a modern business, where technology (and the data it relies on) no longer operates in siloes, but in an interconnected web of infrastructure, platforms, applications and devices that are dependent on one another for their performance, making sure they all work together is essential.

The CIOs that will be achieving the best outcomes in the years ahead will be those that align their technology strategies with their business or organizational objectives. They also need to encourage a culture of collaboration, continuous innovation, and adaptability to develop within the IT team.

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