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’.

Carl D’Halluin, CTO, Datadobi

As a CTO my role involves collaborating closely with an internal CIO and/or one that is employed by a strategic partner and/or end customer.

Carl D’Halluin, CTO, Datadobi

I’ve come to appreciate the qualities that are not only instrumental for successful CIOs today but are also imperative to pass on to the next generation of technology leaders.

To start, I believe that instilling a strategic vision within the next generation of CIOs is paramount. Just as I’ve witnessed the impact of aligning technological initiatives with overarching business goals, I firmly believe that passing on this ability to connect technology with strategic objectives is essential. This encompasses recognizing that technology isn’t just a tool; it’s a means to drive innovation, streamline efficiency and enhance the organization’s competitive edge.

Likewise, adaptability stands out as a quality of utmost importance.

As I’ve worked closely with CIOs to navigate emerging technologies and shifting market dynamics, it’s evident that this skill is instrumental in seizing new opportunities and overcoming challenges. The ability to pivot strategies swiftly and embrace change is a quality that should be emphasized to the next generation of CIOs, enabling them to effectively lead their organizations through technological transformations.

A mindset focused on delivering innovative solutions is another quality that must be passed on. Collaborating with CIOs to explore cutting-edge technologies and creative problem-solving has demonstrated that innovation is essential for staying ahead of competition. By nurturing this mindset, we equip the next generation to continually seek novel solutions and leverage emerging technologies to drive progress.

Having witnessed the criticality of risk management in technology leadership, imparting knowledge about responsible data handling, protection, cybersecurity and compliance is essential to ensure the next generation of CIOs are well-equipped to navigate the complex landscape of technology-related risks.

Next, a culture of team empowerment and mentorship has been a hallmark of effective technology leadership collaborations. The ability to cultivate strong and motivated technology teams is a quality that should also be stressed. This involves not only technical excellence but also the capacity to foster a collaborative and inclusive work environment.

Ultimately, driving measurable results that contribute to the organization’s success is a shared goal between CTOs and CIOs.

Imparting a results-driven mindset to the next generation ensures that technology initiatives are strategically aligned and have a tangible impact on the bottom line.

Steve Santamaria, CEO, Folio Photonics

As a CEO, I believe that the present generation of CIOs holds a crucial responsibility in shaping the next generation of leaders.

Steve Santamaria, CEO, Folio Photonics

First and foremost, the significance of flexibility cannot be emphasized enough. The technology landscape is in a perpetual state of evolution and CIOs should imbue in the next generation the capacity to swiftly adjust to emerging trends and transformative technologies. This demands a mindset that welcomes change as a chance for growth rather than a hurdle to overcome.

Next is effective communication. CIOs must emphasize the importance of clear and concise communication skills to bridge the gap between technical jargon and business objectives. The next generation should be adept at translating complex technological concepts into actionable insights that resonate with both technical and non-technical stakeholders.

Ethical leadership is another cornerstone quality.

Where data privacy and security concerns are prevalent, CIOs must lead with integrity, ensuring that their teams prioritize ethical practices in handling data and technology. By fostering a culture of responsibility and accountability, CIOs can help to ensure that their successors navigate these ethical complexities effectively.

Collaboration across departments and functions is an indispensable skill that the current generation of CIOs should also impart. The next generation needs to understand that IT doesn’t operate in isolation; it’s an enabler for the entire organization.

A forward-thinking mindset is also essential. CIOs must encourage their successors to embrace a proactive approach to technological advancements and anticipate future trends. By staying ahead of the curve and fostering a culture of innovation, CIOs can ensure that the next generation is well-prepared to navigate the ever-evolving tech landscape.

Last but certainly not least, a CIO must possess the ability to promptly evaluate situations and adjust with exceptional agility. The era of prolonged group deliberations and sluggish decision-making belongs to a bygone age. While acknowledging the existence of risks, competent CIOs will excel in skilfully manoeuvring through calculated risk-taking scenarios.

Future CIOs embodying these attributes are poised to command the attention of current and future CEOs, paving the way for a highly successful and lucrative career trajectory.”

Seth Blank, CTO, Valimail

Seth Blank, CTO, Valimail

When it comes to passing on qualities to the next generation of CIOs, it’s crucial to emphasize the fundamentals amidst the allure of emerging technologies. It’s easy to be swept away by the excitement of generative AI, advanced analytics and other flashy innovations, but the heart of your organization’s vulnerability often lies in the relatively mundane channels like email – the very conduit through which a lion’s share of your risk and financial damage originates.

The statistics from the FBI and others underscore this fact.

Therefore, the next piece of advice CIOs should pass on, is to carefully consider the concept of ‘zero-trust identity.’

Treat every interaction and transaction as potentially risky, regardless of whether it originates from within or outside the organization – security cannot be confined to just the perimeter.

That’s why I urge the next generation of CIOs to remember and relay this important lesson: invest appropriately in securing your organization’s email infrastructure. While the allure of emerging tech is undeniable, overlooking the basics can be perilous.

Stephen Cavey, Co-founder and Chief Evangelist, Ground Labs

Stephen Cavey, Co-founder and Chief Evangelist, Ground Labs

CIOs have become increasingly dependent on data to support their decision-making and strategic planning amid rising costs and an ongoing skills shortage. Future CIOs must continue this approach, through establishing strong foundations built on data to better predict and adapt to ever-changing circumstances.

With the acceleration of Digital Transformation, the role of the CIO has further expanded to that of enterprise digital strategist, covering vast estates of on-premise, outsourced and cloud-based systems and environments.

Alongside enabling the enterprise to achieve its strategic goals, CIOs must ensure their IT strategy is not only resilient to change but also drives strong cybersecurity and data management practices and ensure compliance in a new era of stringent, globally enforced privacy requirements.

It has become critical for CIOs to adopt a data-first approach to define their strategy.

Today’s CIO must impart on to future CIOs the importance of building a strong data foundation to enable the organization to fulfillll its purpose and drive continual improvement. This starts with deep data awareness: understanding the data, including sensitive, personal and business critical information; where it is; what its purpose is; and how it is used.

From this baseline, CIOs of the future can make better technology decisions that are backed up by quantitative evidence. A data-first approach ensures that technology investment can be directed to those areas that offer the greatest value for the organization.

Further, a data-first approach facilitates an efficient cybersecurity and data privacy strategy by identifying all systems and processes that store and process high-risk data assets that require the greatest protection.

This approach also enables consolidation of critical data assets under a unified set of strong security controls and processes.

Future CIOs who adopt a data-first approach are ultimately going to be better prepared to deliver their objectives despite rapidly evolving and increasingly fragmented environments, distributed across on-premises networks and cloud-based platforms and applications.

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