chief information officer

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Changing business models evolves the Chief Information Officer

  • Research commissioned by Lenovo reveals CIOs are more involved than ever before in areas outside their traditional technology purview, such as business model transformation, corporate strategy, and sustainability
  • Tasked with increasing organizational agility and streamlining operations cost, 57% of CIOs think at least half their current tech stack is serviceable but could be improved
  • As business models change, nearly all CIOs (92%) would definitely or probably consider adding new as-a-service offerings over the next two years.

In any large enterprise, the Chief Information Officer (CIO) is often in charge of calling the shots when it comes to technology. However, over the years, the role of the CIO has evolved. Not only is the CIO responsible for overseeing the people, processes, and technologies within a company’s IT organization, they also need to be able to influence the C-Suite as well as remove barriers to business growth.

According to global research from Lenovo of more than 500 CIOs, chief information officers are increasingly tasked with connecting with key stakeholders across the organization to ensure alignment and drive execution. With IT enmeshed in every facet of a business, CIOs believe that their organizations must continue to invest in digital transformation to remain relevant.

In fact, 9-in-10 CIOs said that their role and responsibilities have expanded beyond technology, including non-traditional areas such as data analytics and business reporting (56%), sustainability/ESG (45%), DE&I (42%), HR/talent acquisition (39%), and sales/marketing (32%).

Another 82% say the chief information officer role has become more challenging compared with just two years ago as they are confronting a vast array of unique challenges, from the increasing use of AI and automation to talent acquisition in a global, remote workforce. CIOs are also finding it difficult to solve challenges related to data privacy/security (66%), cybersecurity/ransomware (66%), keeping up with technological change (65%), managing fragmented IT vendor ecosystems (61%), and adopting/deploying new technology (60%).

At the same time though, most CIOs believe their role has increased in influence with more than 3-in-4 CIOs saying they have a greater impact on their company’s overall fortunes than other C-Suite positions. 88% agree that “my role as CIO is the most critical component of my company or organization’s continued operation.”

As the role of a chief information officer expands and evolves, respondents also felt that their technology vendors play an invaluable role in their company’s overall success. 61% of respondents felt that businesses would feel an impact in no more than a few weeks if they halted spending on digital transformation initiatives. This speaks to technology’s role as a critical component of the business, not just a source of cost efficiencies.

Looking ahead, CIOs expect to turn to their vendors to help them solve myriad problems in the next five years, including increasing their organizational agility (60%) and providing security of their company’s systems and operations (52%), as well as to simplify the configuration, deployment, and maintenance of technology (50%), and optimize costs (43%). 8-in-10 CIOs agree their tech vendors are “so effectively integrated that it increases their overall productivity.”

Considering their new challenges and evolving responsibilities, CIOs also suggest their current tech stack has much room for improvement.  More than half (57%) said they would replace half or more of their company’s current technology.  Compared to the previous year, 63% of companies are using more Device-as-a-Service in their tech stack. As business models change, nearly all CIOs (92%) would definitely or probably consider adding new as-a-service offerings over the next two years.

Not an easy journey for the Chief Information Officer

For Ken Wong, President, Lenovo Solutions and Services Group, modern CIOs are the ‘mission control’ for their organizations. Their role has transformed drastically in just the span of the past 24 months.

“From navigating complex tech ecosystems to keep up with the speed of digital transformation, to upskilling employees and managing a global shortage of IT talent, today’s CIO is responsible for the entire technology value chain and beyond. Lenovo’s research demonstrates CIOs are up for the challenge. And they are looking to partner with their vendors to bring their organizations along and succeed,” commented Wong.

While research firm IDC estimates that by 2023, 60% of CIOs at companies worldwide will be primarily measured for their ability to co-create new business models and revenue streams, Lenovo’s research shows that it may be an uphill battle for CIOs. Many CIOs have identified areas such as data privacy/security, cybersecurity/ransomware, and managing a fragmented IT vendor ecosystem as their most challenging concerns.

“In this complex technological environment, CIOs want to innovate, not manage IT. As Lenovo’s research highlights, CIOs look to their technology vendors beyond just delivering the basics well – namely, increasing organizational agility, simplifying configuration, and optimizing costs. IT leaders also need counsel and guidance on how emerging technology can enhance their business goals. The opportunities for technology to add real business value – right across the enterprise – are immense,” added Wong.

This is why most CIOs are looking towards as-a-service offerings today. Not only are these solutions flexible, but it also enables organizations to pick and pay for the infrastructure solutions they need, as long as they need them. Businesses of all sizes need the flexibility to stay competitive, and a scalable, cloud-like solution model is the answer.

As business leaders look to improve their productivity, leveraging emerging technologies will be prerogative. However, business leaders need to understand their CIOs and their recommendations to be able to achieve the desired outcome eventually.