By Greg Lush
The traditional role of a Chief Information Officer (CIO) is wide and varied, depending in many instances on the individuals career entry point. For the pure technologist, often moving up from an IT Director or IT VP, they are often referred to as the “IT person.” The other entry point, from which I am very familiar, is the individual moving up from within the business, sometimes known as the business technology expert. For decades it has been a matter of preference and availability, many business leaders having a difficult time discerning between the two paths.
As inclusive cloud platforms continue to gain momentum across enterprises, the differences between the technologist and the business technology expert are becoming quite stark. Many of the traditional technologist workloads have been commoditized to the cloud and niche experts. Relegating these individuals to tactical roles, as they are often devoid of the core business approaches and points of differentiation. It is the business-focused individual, one who can correlate the current practices to the digital tools available, who will thrive in this new low code environment. So much, that the letters may remain the same for the CIO; however, the definition should be Chief Innovation Officer.
Defining the New CIO
A Chief Innovation Officer is hyper-focused on driving value to the business, leveraging skill sets in digital tools, data sciences, change management, learning, quality, strategy, and of course technology leadership. A renaissance of sorts is slowly sweeping across organizations as they shift their technology investments from CapEx to OpEx, expecting now to get the value "owed" to them for their monthly, per-person expense. But it is more than that. If you are not positioned as a technology-enabled business in the future, you will struggle to retain and attract employees, customers and investment partners. Interestingly, the investment is not as significant as one may imagine as the digital tools today are highly configurable. The trick is, find the person who knows the business, people, and technical skills to "pull it off.” A Chief Innovation Officer will deliver (to name a few):
- Increased market share via differentiation
- Higher multiples as a "technology-enabled" digital enterprise, including the modern workplace and Industrial IoT
- Along with Company culture, position the organization as a destination employer, a vital role in today's shrinking labor market
- Efficiency and productivity at the worker level
- Capability to minimize risk when scaling, either accretive or by acquisition
Which CIO are you?