Fotolia releases top 10 most in-demand CIO skills

Job site has released a list of the most in-demand skills for today's CIOs, based on job postings. Experts I talked to said 'most in-demand' doesn't mean most valuable.

What aptitudes are organizations looking for in their CIOs?, one of the world's most popular job sites, has released a list of the top 10 most in-demand CIO skills in the U.S., giving us some insight into that question.

The company put the list together by analyzing job postings for the "chief information officer" title and determining which skills were in most demand for that role based on the percentage of postings between April 2017 to March 2018 that contained those skills. The result:

  1. Project management 
  2. Agile 
  3. Enterprise software development 
  4. Budgeting 
  5. Recruiting 
  6. Business Intelligence (BI)
  7. SAP 
  8. VMware 
  9. Data warehouse 
  10. SharePoint

The list is an eclectic mix of CIO skills, but Paul Wolfe, senior vice president and head of global human resources at, said it's consistent with the changing CIO role.

"More businesses are embracing digital," Wolfe said. "As a result, CIOs have been tasked with developing the strategies and initiatives needed to successfully implement the digital transformation within their organizations. Given that responsibility, it comes as no surprise that we are seeing a mixture of leadership, business and technology skills being reflected in the job postings for the role on Indeed."

'Shortsighted and backward-looking'

Not everyone saw the skills as the best representation of what today's CIOs need for implementing digital transformation strategies. J.P. Gownder, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research, viewed the collection of in-demand skills as "shortsighted and backward-looking" and reflective of the short-term thinking too many organizations adhere to when choosing a CIO.

Aside from perennially-important skills like recruiting and budgeting, there are some key issues missing as we enter the era of pervasive automation.
J.P. Gownderprincipal analyst, Forrester

"Aside from perennially-important skills like recruiting and budgeting, there are some key issues missing as we enter the era of pervasive automation," Gownder said. "Leading an organization into the artificial intelligence era will be critical over the next decade, and in the next couple of years robotic process automation skills will be crucial."

In order to succeed with automation, Gownder said, today's CIOs will need a variety of skills around hiring and managing the right people, creating an AI-first leadership style and evolving organizational processes and culture.


Niel Nickolaisen, CTO at human resource consulting company O.C. Tanner Co., was a bit surprised at a couple of items on the CIO skills list. For example, SharePoint was more specific than he would expect for a job posting. He said the same goes for SAP, but he noted that most CIOs do get pretty immersed in ERP selection, implementation and management.

However, Nickolaisen was most surprised by a skill missing from the list that he believes is "the most essential skill for a CIO" in the age of digital transformation: the ability to influence others -- both inside and outside of IT.

"We IT leaders need to be the ones identifying the future for the organization and then getting everyone working in that direction," he said. "I need to get my team to think differently about how we do things -- to be agile, adaptive, innovate, achieve operational excellence, et cetera. In parallel, I need to help the rest of the organization to think differently about our business model and business rules, approach to customer support and organizational agility."

In a recent podcast titled "Must-Have Skills for Today's CIOs," Bruce Robertson, research vice president and analyst at Gartner, echoed Nickolaisen's perspective on CIO skills, noting that assuming a business executive role means "getting better at the softer skills and the people skills."

"The kind of professional skills [CIOs need] include being able to lead with purpose and passion, to foster the growth mindset in the organization and the people you work with, and to both inspire and engage those that are  going on this same digital business transformation journey," Robertson said.

One other notable item missing from the list: skills related to cloud computing. As recently addressed by SearchCIO's Jason Sparapani, cloud is having a colossal impact on the role of today's CIO.

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