The changing role of the CIO: Is 2023 the year of the Chief Data Officer?

The changing role of the CIO: Is 2023 the year of the Chief Data Officer?

Rich Murr, CIO, Epicor, says there’s a long list of table stake expectations for CIO – but increasingly the role is becoming all about the data.

Rich Murr, CIO, Epicor

Today’s CIO must be more business focused than ever. Implementing and operating technology systems is foundational, but today’s modern CIO now spends most of their time developing deep understandings of business functions across the customer lifecycle and partnering with respective leaders to optimize underlying business processes and systems. 

They have an opportunity to offer much more than the technical leadership typically associated with the role. CIOs often have one of the best cross-functional understandings of how a business really works and are well-positioned to lead complex business process optimization efforts and Digital Transformations. While there remains a long list of table stake expectations for CIOs, the priority function is increasingly becoming all about the data. 

Practically all investments in business applications are ultimately about collecting, presenting and protecting a company’s data as it’s imperative to optimizing operations and enhancing real time decision making. 

Given the value of data, protecting the enterprises’ data is equally as important as leveraging it. Cyberthreats remain a CIO’s biggest headache. A successful cyberattack that compromises those systems or data can be an extraordinarily damaging event, and in some cases, even an existential threat.

This begs the question, are today’s CIOs also wearing the Chief Data Officer (CDO) and Chief Security Officer (CSO) hat, too? They should be. Today, our role is to partner closely with our fellow business leaders to ensure data is accurate, accessible, protected and used effectively.  

Forrester Research found that IT budgets will see more dollars in the upcoming year. Forrester’s  Predictions 2023: Tech Leadership paper reported that 67% of responding IT decision-makers anticipate increased budgets. 

But Forrester Vice President and Principal Analyst Bobby Cameron said many of those CIOs won’t see enough of a bump in their 2023 budgets to beat inflation, meaning their budgets are actually flat or even down in actual spending power. This means CIOs need to do more with the same – or they may argue, less.

As such, cloud adoption will continue to be an important thread running through all enterprises moving forward as it empowers greater IT flexibility and accessibility, ultimately accelerating speed to value and empowering better decision making. 

Here at Epicor, we are laser focused on how we can help our customers leverage the data they have at their disposal to gain the insights they need to better serve their customer base. In 2023, we expect more companies to develop their data strategies, seeing it as integral to driving Digital Transformation. 

As a result, we anticipate an increase in hiring and valuing digital natives who understand analytics in order to unlock further business value.

Driving forward a data-driven approach for our customers will create a collaborative ecosystem in which organizations can collectively share their anonymised datasets. This is an era in which computing power and business intelligence can be applied at scale to drive meaningful industry-wide impact, creating collaborative, data-driven business networks that not only help companies strengthen their own operations, but also seamlessly connect to adaptive industry ecosystems. 

This allows them to bolster visibility, automate workflows, anticipate issues and adjust in real-time. It’s about stronger industry-wide investment and commitments toward connectivity, collaboration, and trust that will help pave the road to a stronger, more resilient supply chain. 

Whether you are running a small business or a large enterprise, implementing the right IT team and strategies can benefit multiple areas of the business. For example, whether in-house or off-site, a reliable IT team can help your business keep records of operations, support with data storage and management, help with unforeseen technical problems and monitor a network for good performance. 

To take your IT team to the next level of support, it’s important to analyze their work both qualitatively and quantitatively. 

On the qualitative side, it is important to have a repeatable process in place to assess how effectively your department is partnering with other business critical functions and business colleagues. 

This is a very important measure, as a strong partnership facilitates the ideation and execution of technology projects and initiatives that improve how the business operates. Take a look at the end-to-end process from the perspective of your business partners and ensure that it makes sense for them – as well as for your team. 

On the quantitative side, ensure the team is periodically benchmarking operational performance, including cost effectiveness, against industry standard metrics. And perhaps most crucially, measure the performance of your cloud strategy – specifically its stability, scalability and security. 

As it’s imperative that CIOs work cross functionally, today’s IT leaders need to also be as much a student of leadership as they are of technology. Leadership is a skillset that needs to be learned, developed and maintained.

Industry polls and surveys show that CIOs now view themselves as digital evangelists, strategic advisors and business leaders; it’s not just about implementing tech these days. CIOs are expected to not only deliver big plays using technology, but also use those technologies to build agility and resilience. 

Using technology to reshape customer and employee experience will require a great deal of a CIO’s attention in 2023. They must think about the total experience that technology and digital gives employees and customers as they build their strategies and devise product roadmaps. 

CIOs must enable business unit leaders and workers to produce and use tech efficiently, effectively and securely. Think intuitive self-service options along with easy-to-follow, and even automated, governance policies. 

CIOs are equal part implementor and guide and they must support business groups in figuring out how to help themselves. 

Overall, the role of the CIO is evolving today more than ever before. The democratization of data, automation, and AI is forcing CIOs to become ever more concerned with the security of their information and leadership surrounding how best to use data. 

The best IT teams have a CIO who can direct them towards both priorities and partner across the business for maximum scalability.

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