So, you want to be a CIO?

Mark Rogers, CEO, Logicalis

The role of the CIO is evolving with more of a focus on revenue and strategy, according to the 2019 Global CIO Survey from Logicalis. The survey reveals that although CIOs are becoming more strategic and accountable, they are also under pressure with reduced budgets and higher security risks.

The latest study from Logicalis clearly shows the role of the CIO has changed radically. Questioning 888 CIOs from around the world, the report found over half (61%) of CIOs have spent more time on strategic planning in the last 12 months while 43% are now being measured on their contribution to revenue growth.

Almost half of the respondents (48%) say that their time spent on security defences has increased in the last year, with CIO’s spending 25% of their time on information and security compliance. The maintenance of technology remains a key aspect of the CIO’s role, with CIO’s on average, spending one-third (33%) of their time focused on the day-to-day management of technology.

What these changes mean is that the increased strain is having a negative impact on CIOs’ enjoyment of their job. Almost half of CIOs (49%) believe their job satisfaction has decreased in the last 12 months, while 29% say their work/life balance has worsened. The expanded focus on strategy and revenue has had an impact on the amount of time CIOs are able to spend on innovation, with 30% saying it has decreased in the last 12 months.

To gain an insight into the findings of this report, Silicon UK spoke with Mark Rogers, CEO, Logicalis.

Mark Rogers joined Logicalis in 2003 as Finance Director for Logicalis UK, and in 2004 he became Chief Financial Officer, European Operations. Since March 2007, he has taken on the role of Chief Operating Officer for Logicalis Group and in March 2014, Mark was appointed President and COO of Logicalis Group. Mark became CEO for Logicalis Group with effect from 1st March 2015.

How has the definition of CIO changed and evolved?

If we look back over the last decade, the definition of CIO has changed and evolved significantly. Just a few years ago, the typical CIO was concerned mostly with IT infrastructure and the day-to-day management of technology. However, today’s CIO is faced with multiple business challenges with their role encompassing more strategic-level responsibilities.

At Logicalis, we have surveyed CIOs from across the globe for the last seven years, to get a better understanding of how they perceive their role to be changing and evolving. This year, we surveyed over 800 CIOs and found that 61% have spent more time on strategic planning in the last year, and almost half (43%) are now being measured on their contribution to revenue growth.

Digital transformation has impacted almost every industry, leading the role of the CIO to increase in importance. CIOs are now responsible for business performance at a strategic level, adding to the time that they are also expected to spend on maintaining IT infrastructure.

Security seems to be taken a disproportionate amount of CIO time and resources. Is this trend going to continue?

The challenge of keeping systems secure within organisations is always going to be one of the main priorities within a CIO’s role. With the introduction of legislation such as Europe’s GDPR and the CCPA in the US, coupled with the increasing number of high-level data breaches we have witnessed over the past year, there have been notable increases in cybersecurity concerns at the executive level.

In our latest survey, it was revealed that CIOs now dedicate 25% of their time to security compliance. If you compare these results with those from 2018, the average time the typical CIO is spending on security and compliance has remained consistent.

Combatting the obstacles of digital transformation and keeping systems running and secure is becoming a difficult juggling act. Over the next few years, I can only predict that this will be a continued focus and use of the CIO’s time.

How have CIOs expanded their skill sets to meet the changing demands of their companies?

With the noted changes in the role of the CIO and the industry, CIOs must adapt and change as well. It is now a requirement for CIOs to adjust their skills to meet the demands of the new business environment, and this is reflected in the changes we have uncovered in the survey – from everyday technology to strategic-level responsibility. Those who don’t adapt run the risk of being left behind.

As such, the skill sets expected of CIOs are evolving. As we have seen in the results of our latest survey, CIOs will need to contribute to corporate strategy and manage significant change within the business, whilst also still having to maintain the day-to-day functioning of technology. These conflicting pressures will mean that the CIO must be agile in their ability to manage multiple tasks and have different corporate responsibilities within the business.

Digital leadership is just another example of this change. As digital transformation continues to reshape the technology industry, businesses of all types and sizes will be reliant on CIOs having the skills to drive and adapt to this change.

How is the role of CIO now influencing the strategic development of their enterprises?
A CIO’s background in technology means they understand the influence it can have on the organisation. CIOs can engage with staff across the business on how technology can improve effectiveness within their role, which will no doubt drive company growth and boost efficiency.

At the board level, CIOs can inform executives on the strategic value of technology to their organisation. Their increase in strategic responsibility – should be embraced by businesses and CIOs alike – because technology does hold the key to unlocking competitive advantage and operational efficiency. CIO’s technical expertise allows the business to resolve problems with technology, a process that would not previously have been considered.

Which area of business innovation will CIO be expected to support in the short to medium term?

CIOs are now spending a significant amount of time on innovation. Respondents to our survey say they spend 28% of their time on innovation, and a half (50%) say their performance is measured on the service innovations they introduce.

Additionally, 54% of CIOs cite innovation as their main business priority in the next 12 months. Operational efficiency was stated as the primary business objective by the majority (61%) of respondents, which will be driven by the introduction of innovative technologies such as artificial intelligence and robotic process automation, coupled with the paring down of legal systems and processes.

In this context and the short to medium term, I would expect that innovation can be interpreted as working on and developing processes that improve both the customer and employee experience. 74% of respondents say they have increased their focus on this area, which has also become a primary business priority for 45% of CIOs.

Is the role of CIO blurring? If the business processes they are asked to manage expands, is the role of CIO absorbing the CTO function in many companies?

As executive level roles and responsibilities change in response to industry developments, there is an increasing overlap between the role of the CIO and that of the CTO. However, there is no standard job description of the role of the CIO or CTO as they vary from organisation to organisation. According to a recent report from Gartner, in some companies, the CTO is often at a higher level than the CIO and is focused on innovation-driven investments for the business. In other scenarios, the CTO is a technology visionary and change agent for IT and reports to the CIO.

How do CIOs see their careers developing?

CIOs see themselves as the leaders of change. Technology is rapidly growing and influencing almost every industry, and the role of the CIO is evolving alongside this digital transformation. As technology changes, so do business priorities and customer expectations, so it is vital for CIOs to keep up with these developments.

CIO’s careers are drifting further from the focus on IT infrastructure and day-to-day management of technology. Soon, their role will become entirely dedicated to improving strategy and growing revenue. Their experience at the C-suite level will allow the CIO to embrace new opportunities and consider alternative executive positions.

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