How are modern CIOs making an impact with multi-cloud? A recently released VMware report, “CIO Essential Guidance: Modernizing Applications in a Multi-Cloud World,” outlines these four key factors that influence success:

Drive Developer Velocity

The best applications are created by the most talented developers, so it’s crucial to attract and retain the best talent. Taking it a step further, according to a recent Forrester poll, 69% of business leaders agreed that a good Developer Experience (DevEx) results in a better customer experience (CX).1 In fact, it’s clear that DevEx directly impacts CX: 45% of enterprise IT executives report that their dev teams push software releases on a monthly or faster pace (on average).2

With so much at stake, it’s critical to enable your developers to do what they do best: code. But all too often, barriers prevent this from happening. Cumbersome legacy platforms and tools slow down developers, which is why CIOs need to remove friction from the underlying development infrastructure and create an environment where teams can focus on achieving outcomes.

This may include creating agile workflows and automating manual processes as well as handoffs, provisioning and even meetings and paperwork. Adopting a cross-cloud development platform that offers the programs and codes your developers prefer, including pre-selected open-source products, will also elevate velocity, improve DevEx and unleash innovation.


Embrace Unified Cloud Management

Despite all the advantages of multi-cloud development environments, if you can’t easily manage your cloud estate, you’re not reaping the full benefits. You could be underutilizing resources from one cloud provider, while maxing out on another. Moreover, lack of visibility means greater risk.


A successful strategy for overcoming these types of challenges is to choose the best cloud provider for each app – whether it’s an application platform for developers, an observability app for risk management, automation for operations, or something else — yet manage all clouds as if they were one, using a single platform. This approach reduces operational complexity and presents opportunities for greater governance, cost savings and risk management. 

Shift Security Left

Shifting security left – meaning building in features that bolster security across the entire app pipeline, from the build phase all the way through deployment and optimization – is essential in today’s complex threat landscape. This approach, combined with a unifying security platform and modern development principles, reduces risks and allows you to identify vulnerabilities and issues faster.


When security management controls reside on a central platform, CIOs can better manage risk,compliance, and more across their overall cloud strategy – spanning entire application development and operations processes.

Take a Platform-as-a-Product Approach

Unifying platforms are vitally important to the success of your modern apps in a multi-cloud world. The operation of these platforms should be of the utmost importance, seeing as they are the product that keeps the company running.

If you view your unifying multi-cloud platforms as drivers of innovation, growth and data protection, and run them as a product, you can reimagine the way you prioritize and manage your apps and cloud estate. With a Platform-as-a-Product approach, it’s easier to keep your focus on the big picture.

Bringing It All Together

With almost 75% of businesses operating across multiple public clouds 5, it’s become clear that efforts to modernize need to be executed strategically. CIOs who’ve enjoyed success in this area are realizing cost savings, revenue growth, and improved innovation. They have taken the time to standardize functions across clouds, chosen the clouds that best meet the needs of their apps, and operated unifying platforms that maintain seamless business control over multiple cloud providers. They have also improved DevEx to make the best use of one of their greatest assets: their Dev team.

For more ways to influence multi-cloud success, download the complete report: CIO Essential Guidance: Modernizing Applications in a Multi-Cloud World

Learn more by clicking here.

[1] Taking it a step further, according to a recent Forrester poll, 69% of business leaders agreed that a good Developer Experience (DevEx) results in a better customer experience (CX).

[2] In fact, it’s clear that DevEx directly impacts CX: 45% of enterprise IT executives report that their dev teams push software releases on a monthly or faster pace (on average).


IT leaders hold a powerful position at Owens Corning. CIO Steve Zerby not only has a seat at the table, but he’s driving business strategy at the manufacturing company thanks to his panoptic view of the centralized yet global organization. He’s able to spot synergies in supply chain processes that could create efficiencies, and connect leaders in high-performing geographies with lower-performing regions that could benefit from their perspective — even if they’re not in the same business division.

Zerby’s senior leaders serve as the company’s “air traffic controllers,” he says. They’re able to see the technologies, processes, and people “moving in different directions, the strategies involved, and how they fit together. We’re really in the best positioned to connect those dots, draw those parallels, and see collisions that are about to happen,” Zerby says.

As digital initiatives flourish, the CIO is one of the few executives with a bird’s-eye view of all business functions and how they work in the context of the broader organization, including their digital progress, capabilities, challenges, and talent. For these reasons, many CIO roles have expanded to that of chief integration officer. They’re integrating business and IT cross-functional teams, integrating partner ecosystems for the benefit of the company, and integrating business and IT objectives.

“The CIO role has become much more strategic. It’s not about a functional responsibility anymore; it’s about orchestrating the technology capabilities to deliver what the business needs,” says Khalid Kark, global CIO research director and managing director of Deloitte’s CIO Program. 

“We are seeing a significant expansion in the CIO role and specifically in a handful of responsibilities that weren’t there pre-COVID,” including monetizing data and technology for the organization, re-imagining how work is done through automation, and more focus on emerging technology to drive business solutions, Kark says.

This may be because large organizations are re-shuffling org charts to place chief data officers, chief digital officers, and chief technology officers under the CIO, where many have been horizontal or dotted lines to the CIO. The goal is a more cohesive approach to overall tech strategy. Otherwise, tech will again be siloed and the business doesn’t know who to turn to first, Kark says.

Elevating influence

At Tokio Marine North America Services, integration means not just technology integration but people and processes integration. CIO Robert Pick does a lot of integration through the vector of automation. His company became interested in robotic process automation and process orientation, which included business process outsourcing and optimization.

“In our organization, the team of Six Sigma and business process management folks is actually in IT,” he says. “They’re the same people who do robotics process automation — and now they’re doing broader intelligent automation,” with Pick overseeing and integrating those roles in the organization.

Pick also found responsibilities that were once under the COO’s stack, or didn’t exist at all, are now falling under IT. “We collected them just by adjacencies,” he says. For instance, IT disaster recovery responsibilities broadened to included non-tech related responsibilities, but they still fell under IT. “All of a sudden, boom! We own active assailant training … and the totality of how we continue the true business processes, all the way through to emergency management and crisis management,” Pick says.

Like it or not, the horizontal view that CIOs have puts them in the catbird seat to see across stovepipe departments and even across multiple businesses, which makes integration a logical role, not to mention having the resources to execute, as opposed to other adjacent CXOs.

“When CIOs are in charge of the integration process they can deliver more value,” Pick says. “If we’re providing the glue, not just relying on it, that allows us to avoid problems.” It has also elevated the CIO’s influence in business strategy.

CIOs as integrators of business strategy

CIOs are better-suited for the chief integration role than other C-suite executives, says Lookman Fazal, CIO of NJ Transit, the third largest transit agency in US providing nearly a million trips a day pre-pandemic.

“IT has always been integrating systems, and we’re used to changing these technologies every three years. It’s just that we were doing it with tools, not people,” Fazal says. Today, CIOs are bringing people together along with processes to impact business strategy. While most C-suite execs focus on day-to-day operations, “the digital heads look to the future and see what’s coming on the horizon,” he adds.

Fazal has taken the integration reins when it comes to changing the public transit agency’s mindset from a state-owned monopoly to a competitive business-to-consumer organization. “We offer a product [transit], and we need consumers to buy our product, and we need to stay competitive,” he says. “So how do we retain customers, maintain foot traffic, increase revenue, stay ahead of competition, and don’t get shut down?”

One piece of this effort, a rewards program, offers travel points that customers can redeem for rewards at local businesses near transit stops. The IT team not only built the platform for the project, but Fazal helped build the business case, identified its impact on each business unit, and then developed the change management processes around it. “IT is in the best position to look at the impact of process change across the organization,” he says.

Integrating with outside business partners

Business strategy often collides with a shortage of needed skill sets, and CIOs are being called on to integrate with outside business partners and ecosystems.

National Life Group CIO Nimesh Mehta brought together partners from outside the company to create competitive advantage for the insurance provider in the form of instant policy approval and issue. The application and underwriting process typically took 20 or more days for approval under the company’s previous approach. Mehta and his team envisioned being able to issue complicated policies instantly and “without a human touch.”

“We brought together not only internal teams, but we also had four other vendors in the insurance space, including a software vendor, system integrators, and data partners, and we built one team with a very clear vision to get from Point A to B.” The 18-month project was completed in June 2022, the first of its kind in the US.

“It’s not just about the IT team working with the business team — you show up as one team — and making sure that everyone is on the same page with the same goal,” Mehta says.

Integration requires tweaking leadership styles

CIOs may need to tweak their leadership style to work successfully with groups outside of IT.

“You’ve got to have a little bit of humility because as you wade into groups where you’re not familiar with their domains and expertise you will be wrong sometimes,” Owens Corning’s Zerby says. You also have to be willing to give them what they need and not necessarily what you want to provide to them, he adds, whether that’s process help, change management assistance, talent guidance, or just a global perspective based on experience.

As part of his integration role, Mehta is helping the organization move from the concept of “teams” to “teaming,” which is “people who have never practiced together having to come together to solve a problem,” Mehta says. This requires changes to the CIO’s leadership style. They’ll need to articulate a very clear vision, hone their storytelling and articulation skills, learn to deal with diversity of thought and personalities, and have the ability to influence, he says.

… and a change in hiring style

CIOs should make sure they have capabilities in at least one of the three emerging areas of CIO responsibility to remain relevant — which are monetizing data and tech, re-imagining work/AI, and implementing emerging tech to drive business strategy, Deloitte’s Kark says.

That sometimes means hiring people with different skill sets. In a Deloitte report to be released this fall, CIOs were asked to rank human skills and tech skills and what they were planning to hire for in the next two years. “The majority were looking for human skills, like creativity, out-of-the-box thinking and solutioning, as opposed to more technical skills,” Kark says.

The holy grail

Owens Corning’s Zerby already sees the CIO integrator-to-influencer role playing out in his organization. When he first placed two divisional CIOs into three of its businesses, “they were the technology person sitting in the room waiting for some technology idea and need — that’s how they were seen, and that’s probably how they acted,” he says. But over time they began proving their value by connecting the dots and “being good at things outside the IT discipline,” he says. 

“Now they’re [doing things like] leading the organization on how we’re going to execute a strategy. It could be leading an exercise with the customer; sometimes they’re even interviewing talent for other parts of the business. That’s the holy grail of where you want to get,” Zerby says, “being seen as a bigger contributor than just a technologist.”

CIO, IT Leadership