Traditionally, chief information officers had three roles: strategist, technology evangelist and business operator. While CIOs continue to focus on these roles today, they are also expected to drive business transformation.
Typical CIO duties changed over the last decade, particularly in the last four to five years. As organizations moved away from cost-cutting to expanding revenue streams, CIOs became tasked with simultaneously driving innovation and contributing to the bottom line. As a result, it is becoming increasingly important for CIOs to create value for their organizations and facilitate close engagement with the customer base. CIOs must think about long-term business strategy, not merely about keeping the lights on.
According to a 2020 Deloitte survey of global CIOs, about 40% of CIO respondents said they lead the digital strategy in their organizations. Given current trends, this percentage will undoubtedly increase in the coming years.
As the CIO's duties expands, they may call on channel partners for assistance.
Why CIO are key players
Digital transformation programs obviously involve technological components, but they can also introduce change management challenges for organizations. Rather than simply oversee the technology side of the work, today's CIO will participate in decisions that affect cost efficiency and revenue generation across an organization. In the execution of digital transformation programs, the CIO must act as the bridge between business and technology, combining technical capabilities and digital vision with business expertise and a range of people skills.
CIOs must also develop deep partnerships at the C-suite level within their organizations; understand the finer nuances of the business; foresee changes in customers; and work with the CEO to envision how technology can disrupt and radically transform the business.
A good example of successfully implemented innovation is Uber. Responding to growing demand, Uber developed a model that made the ride-hailing experience simpler, economical and accessible. Companies like Tesla operate in the same way, making electric cars more practical as options. For these and countless other companies, CIOs played central roles in strategizing and executing forward-looking changes.
There are external reasons that have changed CIOs' responsibilities as well. The economy has evolved, the business landscape has shifted, global markets have new players and consumer needs have expanded. These changes led some businesses to modify their business models in order to remain relevant and competitive.
For example, amid the COVID-19 pandemic's economic fallout, operational circumstances changed for businesses around the world. Organizations were challenged with digitally connecting remote workforces and ensuring employees remained as productive as they were in the past, if not more so, while working from home.
In order to strategize and execute massive changes like the 2020 transition to remote work, organizations need leaders with the technical, business and creative acumen to encourage companywide collaboration. CIOs, by virtue of their role, are in the best position to drive these changes and act on untapped opportunities.
Because digital technology is now at the heart of all business transformation projects, CIOs' responsibilities will continue to evolve and their guidance will prove more valuable than ever.
Partner collaboration fosters successful transformations
The range and variety of digital transformation initiatives greatly increase by identifying areas conducive to collaboration with channel partners.
From a CIO's perspective, it's important to figure out what an organization must do to flourish in the modern business world. Collaboration with channel partners can help deal with the complexities of delivering products and services to customers.
Certain methods can position organizations and their partners for successful collaboration. Here are some characteristics of a platform designed to quickly strengthen multipartner collaborations:
- insist on data quality, integrity and security in all digital transformation initiatives;
- focus on cloud-native offerings that can run on multiple cloud platforms;
- use distributed APIs to integrate business processes and services; and
- concentrate on using artificial intelligence and machine learning as the foundation for transformation efforts.
Approaching digital transformation with these factors in mind facilitates cooperation with business partners and enables all entities to take advantage of the benefits it provides.
About the author
Gunaseelan Rajendran is deputy chief information officer at Synoptek, an IT consultant and managed services provider based in Irvine, Calif. Rajendran specializes in business alignment, transformation and delivering innovative technology solutions. Rajendran has a Master of Science degree from the National Institute of Technology - Tiruchirappalli and an executive management certification from Cornell University. Reach out to Rajendran at [email protected].