Years ago, the role of a top IT representative was similar to that of a train engineer. They monitored the well-established mechanisms, made sure all systems were good, and watched things move along steadily. In today’s predominantly tech-based business climate, there is nothing steady about the role of a Chief Information Officer (IT executive). Indeed, CIOs are forced to wear many hats - and none of them are train conductor hats. The great momentum behind the shift toward data and digitalization has thrust CIOs into a much more strategic role, requiring them to walk the line between tech and exec. With such a multidimensional set of responsibilities, many CIOs struggle to keep up. As their role becomes more pivotal, their professional plates likewise become more and more full.
The Society for Information Management (SIM) recently released some statistics indicating the items that are of the greatest concern for CIOs in 2017. These figures, in a manner of speaking, tell the story of the thin-spread CIO as he or she strains to keep up with a demanding and uniquely complicated assortment of duties.
Keeping Up with Business Leaders
According to SIM, 41.7% of CIOs consider 'business alignment' to be their biggest concern going into 2017. Essentially, since the job of a CIO is split between the tech side and the business side of a company, CIOs want to ensure unity and fluidity between the two sides. This is not always an easy task. SIM indicated that generally speaking, IT departments are seldom able to keep up with the needs of their companies. This disconnect is common. The good news is, this gap may become narrower as more CIOs begin reporting directly to the CEO rather than other significant company executives. SIM reported that 46.3% of CIOs now meet directly with their CEO. This will only breed more connectivity between business and tech people, which is crucial to the CIO’s interest in business alignment.
Keeping Up with Hackers
In the last decade or so, you have probably noticed a number of security breaches of major corporations in the news. Millions and millions of records containing sensitive information have been stolen by hackers. This issue, which can be catastrophic for obvious reasons, falls under the jurisdiction of the CIO. In light of this, it is no wonder CIOs collectively identified cyber-security as their number two concern. In recent years, particularly with the mass convergence of technology in business, hacking has become a significantly greater threat. Only four years ago, cyber-security only made it to No. 9 in the same survey. As CIOs charge into 2017 with the security of their companies on their shoulders, you can bet that hatching plans to outsmart the hacker will be front of mind.
Keeping Up with Technology
CIOs are responsible for adopting and applying the latest and most useful technologies. A recent example of this is the widespread transition from hard drive storage to all flash storage and cloud computing. While new technology can enhance overall efficiency and profitability, the seamless implementation of new tech into company procedures can be more complicated than it seems. The integration of new technology often requires IT people to learn new skills in order to effectively use their new gadget or software. Some experts even say tech updates require them to virtually reinvent themselves every 18 months. In this ever-evolving atmosphere, it is easy to see how employees and even entire IT teams become out of touch. Consistent with this point, SIM pointed out that 24% of CIOs consider 'skill shortage' to be their greatest concern going into 2017. To address this chronically looming gap in knowledge, CIOs will likely continue encouraging a culture of continuous learning and may even inch toward hiring people on a gig-to-gig basis.