The evolution of the CIO role has been under the spotlight in recent times, and not only as a result of the technological turbulence brought on by the pandemic.

In 2017, PwC published its Changing Role of the CIO report, highlighting changing consumer behaviour and speed of technological change as key concerns for business leaders, requiring new ways of working to ensure continued business success.  The report stated that the successful application of technology was central to an organisation’s ability to compete in this new world, resulting in the mandate of the IT function changing rapidly.

This shift has resulted in CIOs taking a broader role that isn’t solely reliant on technology implementation.  CIOs now take the lead on managing technology budgets to maximise growth, and on matching technology services to business need allowing it to compete effectively, respond to market demand, and ultimately achieve its goals.

Much of this shift has been driven by the advent and huge growth of cloud-based technology, with firms being forced to adapt quickly to maximise use of the technology with CIOs taking the lead.  With all eyes on AI as the next technology to watch, the pressure on CIOs is not likely to lift any time soon.

Add to this the huge upheaval and massive reliance on technology as a result of the pandemic and resulting lockdowns, and the role of the CIO is set to remain critical and extremely fluid in the coming months.

Here we consider some of the key issues facing CIOs in the near future.

Cloud Strategy

Having an appropriate cloud strategy helps businesses to ascertain how to make the best use of cloud technology in order to meet the wider business gals.  CIOs must be cognisant of both the anticipated benefits of using cloud technology, and the adaptations that may need to be made across the business in order to accommodate its use.

Focus on AI

A focus for speculation and hype for many years, the impact of AI on business is fast becoming a reality, from AI driven apps to chat bots on many consumer facing sites.  The key task for CIOs in this new environment is to further their understanding of AI-based technologies, allowing them to determine the new opportunities and benefits they present to business.

Managing Change

Technology has driven huge amounts of business change in recent years, transforming all areas of an organisation.  Whilst the speed of change has allowed businesses to adapt to new and changing demands, it is essential that CIOs and the wider leadership team are mindful of the impact of change on employees.  Part of the CIO’s role is to ensure that an organisations people remain at the heart of any technological change programmes and are informed and on board to ensure success.

Covid-19 Impact

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic will be long term and wide ranging.  With a recession inevitable following global lockdowns, the CIO will be instrumental in determining the survival of many organisations as they seek to find new ways of delivering their services, or of transforming their business offering completely.

Remote working became a reality during the first wave of the pandemic and is here to stay for the foreseeable future.  Managing effective remote working is essential for the survival for many businesses during the pandemic.  Ensuring IT systems are effective, that employees have access to hardware required, and ensuring network security have been a huge focus for CIOs, and will continue to be a priority throughout the current lockdown and beyond.

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