With digital technology increasingly vital to business, the CIO role is quickly evolving, placing IT leaders under threat from business executives who offer the blend of business and technical savvy necessary to lead transformational strategies in the future.

A recent report by market intelligence firm IDC has placed IT leaders at a crossroads, predicting that, by 2026, 60% of APAC CIOs will find their roles challenged by LOB (line-of-business) counterparts who can better demonstrate the ability to align technology with the organization’s mission and customers.

Already under pressure to accelerate digital transformation, CIOs now often find their voices drowned out by LOB executives who are heavily involved in making technology decisions, according to the report. This trend could leave CIOs vulnerable to decreased influence over the corporate technical agenda, or pushed into a secondary C-suite role.

Narottam Sharma, who recently quit his role as global CIO of Indian multinational Mastek to advise enterprises on digital transformation, cuts to the heart of the issue: “Technology is getting democratization but the pace at which business is learning technology is faster than the pace at which technology is learning business. As a result, CIOs find their roles being challenged by LOB counterparts.”

Increasingly fragmented technology budgets and transformation strategies could accelerate this crisis, he says.

“The fallout of this is challenging for CEOs as it results in distribution of money in different pockets within an organization,” Sharma says. “Also, there is a lack of cohesive and holistic transformation in the company, which eventually hinders realization of collective value for the organization”

The growing stature of LOBs

Malaysia-based Ts Saiful Bakhtiar Osman, head of IT for Asia Pacific at financial services company The Ascent Group, has experienced this situation first hand, to damaging results.

“I have been in this situation in the past when frustrated LOB managers resorted to lobbying, by using speed-to-market as an excuse, with the top management for allowing them to proceed with their own initiatives,” Osman says. “Such bulldozing without proper planning and IT best practices in place led to the initiative backfiring. IT was later dragged in to clean up the mess.”

“This not only added unnecessary workload to IT but also exposed the organization to unnecessary incompliance audit findings and threat vulnerabilities. Had IT been consulted from the beginning, it would have saved the company time and cost to combat all the bugs and security issues. The IT security governance standard is put there for a reason,” he says.

Still, Osman agrees that active participation from LOBs can have positive impact as well, provided proper controls are in place. Business would be able to grow rapidly with LOB executives leading initiatives in their area of expertise. And nurturing ownership from business executives can also mitigate pushback. “In the absence of control, the enterprise would be at risk due to shadow IT and the IT department can turn into a convenient scapegoat to be blamed for any failed initiatives,” he says.

Naren Gangavarapu, CIO and digital officer at Northern Beaches Council, a local government organisation in Sydney, is all for this trend, seeing the shift not as a “passing fad that is temporary” but as something CIOs should expect will become the new normal.

“This is the direction businesses should be heading to,” he says. “Right now, most organisations have multiple strategies such as digital strategy, IT strategy, security strategy, business strategy, and corporate strategy. To get these to work in a harmonious way is a challenge and they end up collecting dust and reviewed once a year or more thus losing relevancy in a fast-changing world. There should be only one strategy and that is ‘strategy for the digital world.’ Advances in AI and quantum computing will further put LOBs in the driver’s seat.”

In his previous role, Gangavarapu was embedded in business where he was responsible for delivering efficiencies, which involved leading digital transformation initiatives within the LOB (Department of Planning). He was able to “halve assessment timeframes for state significant projects resulting in $18 billion dollars of investment into New South Wales creating 59,000 jobs during FY 18/19.”

How CIOs can remain relevant

Even as LOB executives get more tech savvy, the past few years have proven how critical the CIO role is for businesses to stay resilient and execute on their digital transformation strategies.  

To ward off LOB heads from their turf, Linus Lai, chief analyst and digital business research lead at IDC A/NZ, says CIOs must be able to demonstrate to other members of the C-suite how their actions and decisions directly boost the bottom and top lines. CIOs should also build stakeholder relationships within LOBs and leverage business relationship managers to better serve customer-facing organizations.

“CIOs will have to ensure effective joint business outcomes from IT and LOBs by delivering strategic digital business advice and enabling effective upwards communication. They must initiate a critical review of sourcing practices to manage the supplier ecosystem to maintain architectural goals and spending targets. Also, IT leaders will need to manage technical debt across the application portfolio with agile portfolio management and value stream mapping,” he says.

For CIOs to hold their own, Sharma says IT leaders can’t stop at business acumen, but instead must develop great interpersonal skills and be able to lead people in a cross-functional and cross-geographical environment. They should also be able to leverage emerging technologies to lend business a competitive edge.

To do this in his former roles as CIO, Sharma created a cross-functional decision committee comprising functional leaders, such as the CFO and CHRO, and technical leaders, such as the CIO or head of applications. “That helped in democratizing the process and enabling a smooth sale though and execution of any project,” he says.

Gangavarapu says such efforts are vital for addressing this trend, which includes “a shift in technology resources’ mindset to a new direction by preparing them to blend into the LOBs through awareness, training, and a culture shift. Besides recruiting a digital-savvy workforce for the future that is aligned to customer expectations, CIOs should themselves gear up to become an advisory function,” he says.

To do this, Gangavarapu has established a digital council at Northern Beaches Council to get the board, which consists of 15 Councillors who are elected by the community, to buy into his vision and direction. He is updating the workforce strategy and capability framework, which outlines the digital skills expected of each new hire based on their role.

“We are decentralizing budget from IT back to individual business units where they have ownership and drive the lifecycle of the contract and services. We also embed skills into LOB resources on an ongoing basis so that they are equipped to handle technology changes, compliance, and regulatory shifts around technology,” he says. “Here IT is taking an advisory role and LOBs are taking the lead. By connecting LOBs to market innovators in respective areas, with IT support, we encourage innovation.”

According to Gangavarapu, these initiatives have resulted in quite a few LOBs being self-sufficient and running their own digital initiatives with centralized coordination from IT.

Measuring progress during this journey, he shares that “employee engagement went up by 9%, wellbeing up by 13%, progress up by 18%, and customer satisfaction score shift from 71% in 2019 to 88% in 2022.”

What the future CIO role could look like

It is a given that CIOs in the future will perform beyond their IT functions. With the recent pandemic and the increasing push for digital transformation, CIOs are already wearing multiple hats to help evolve the business. “CIOs are now required to become a marketing strategist, a business analyst, a finance advisor, and an operation expert while delivering their core expertise as an IT champion. This is the way ahead and CIOs need to keep on upgrading, reskilling, and upskilling to stay relevant,” Osman says.

Going forward, there will be opportunities for CIOs to step into other CXO functions to add value and stay relevant, and this imperative will apply to all other technology resources who will realise that they cannot work siloed in a standalone IT business unit anymore but must be embedded in the LOB, understand context, and be able to add value.

As Gangavarapu says, “Digital and technology function will get embedded into LOBs driving strategies and offering products and services for the digital world. The function of information technology teams will reduce as quite a few will move to the LOBs and IT will end up running the plumbing works such as infrastructure, communications, and cybersecurity. [Cross-functional teams] will become a core ingredient of a succeeding in a digital world.”

And this shift to embedded IT will further transform the CIO role, Gangavarapu says.

“Driving digital adoption in business is easier being a part of business rather than driving from IT, as it is seen as external — someone is doing this to us — instead, ‘We are driving this’; hence, CIOs must start picking up roles in LOBs with various titles such as chief translation officer, chief digital advisory officer, or chief innovation officer,” he says.

IT leaders not willing to change may soon be out of luck, Sharma says, as he sees the CIO role getting replaced, unless they acquire the necessary skills to remain relevant, by that of a chief transformation officer, who would work closely with the CEO and act as a bridge between the CIO office and LOBs.

“The chief transformation officers will identify business transformation opportunities within the enterprise and will work closely with the business. The arrangement would be such that the ownership of the project will lie with the respective LOBs while the company-level value creation and competitive edge will be jointly shared between them,” he says, adding that the CIO could become the chief custodian or chief architect, and if unable to add any value to the board, the CIO may end up reporting to the chief transformation officer.

IDC’s Lai agrees.

“I believe the role of the CIO will evolve to being a chief business technology officer role, which many CIOs may find challenging, but is one where they are partners to the business to deliver on the promise of new digital business and operating models,” he says.

“C-level executives are increasing their focus on profitability and improved operational efficiency by concentrating on enhancing employee productivity, innovation, and time to market,” he says. “If CIOs are to play a technology/business orchestration role in the leadership team, part of that effort will involve building or strengthening relationships with business counterparts.”


By Ram Velaga, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Core Switching Group

This article is a continuation of Broadcom’s blog series: 2023 Tech Trends That Transform IT.  Stay tuned for future blogs that dive into the technology behind these trends from more of Broadcom’s industry-leading experts.

It is clear that artificial intelligence, machine learning, and automation have been growing exponentially in use—across almost everything from smart consumer devices to robotics to cybersecurity to semiconductors. In 2023, there is no doubt that artificial intelligence and automation will permeate every aspect of our lives. As Michael Dell predicts, “Building systems that are built for AI first is really inevitable.”

We’ve come a long way in the past 10 years in developing artificial intelligence—we’ve had breakthroughs that have dramatically increased the capability of artificial intelligence to recognize patterns and relationships. Going forward, we’ll see an expansion of artificial intelligence in creating. As a current example, consider ChatGPT by OpenAI, an AI research and deployment company. This application has been in the news lately due to the quality and detail of its outputs. For example, teachers are even adjusting their curriculums to ensure students are writing original work and not just using ChatGPT to write their assigned essays. It’s also been flagged as a risk: cybersecurity companies have identified bad actors using ChatGPT to create malware. That’s usually a sign that the use of an application has become widespread. But how good can it be? Can artificial intelligence really create thoughtful insight into the future of artificial intelligence and automation?

We decided to test it out—we used ChatGPT to create a perspective on artificial intelligence and automation in 2023. Read the result below:

(From ChatGPT, by OpenAI: an AI research and deployment company.)

Artificial intelligence (AI) and automation are playing an increasingly expanded role in today’s world, with advancements in computing technology allowing for more advanced and specialized forms of processing. Over the last few decades, computing has evolved from general-purpose processing using large, monolithic CPUs to high-parallel processing using many CPUs, graphics processing units, and now, dedicated AI and machine learning (ML) accelerators.

As new types of computing have become available, applications have also adapted to leverage their new capabilities. While applications were previously written as large, monolithic scale-up programs, they have changed to become containerized, scale-out applications based on platforms like Docker and Kubernetes. This change in computing has been enabled by high-speed, high-bandwidth Ethernet networking using leaf-spine architectures.

One company that has driven the industry’s pace of high-speed Ethernet switches is Broadcom. They have enabled networks to handle the demands of AI and ML workloads. Their 51.2Tbps Tomahawk 5 switch chip, for example, provides double the bandwidth of any other networking silicon, and includes features that dramatically accelerate AI and ML workloads.

The very success of capabilities like those on ChatGPT are based on highly scalable networks connecting thousands of accelerators. This allows for AI and ML to be run at scale, enabling new and powerful applications in areas such as autonomous vehicles, natural language processing, and image recognition.

In conclusion, the advancements in computing, including the emergence of dedicated AI and ML accelerators, and the use of containerized, scale-out applications are enabling AI and automation to play an expanded role in today’s world. These advancements have been enabled by high-speed, high-bandwidth Ethernet networks interconnecting the new types of compute elements. As technology continues to advance, Broadcom will play a key role in driving even more exciting developments in the future.

We have to say, ChatGPT delivered a solid overview of our position on artificial intelligence and automation. We agree that we’ve just scratched the surface and it is important to highlight the words “at scale”. We’ll see the true benefits of artificial intelligence and automation once we can consistently and frequently apply it at the scales enabled by the latest Ethernet networking technologies.

To learn more about Broadcom’s innovative focus on artificial intelligence and automation, as well as other tech trends, visit our blog series, 2023 Tech Trends That Transform IT

About the author:

Broadcom Software

Ram Velaga is Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Core Switching Group at Broadcom, responsible for the company’s extensive Ethernet switch portfolio serving broad markets including the service provider, data center and enterprise segments.

Artificial Intelligence, IT Leadership

Since its inception decades ago, the primary objective of business intelligence has been the creation of a top-down single source of truth from which organizations would centrally track KPIs and performance metrics with static reports and dashboards. This stemmed from the proliferation of data in spreadsheets and reporting silos throughout organizations, often yielding different and conflicting results. With this new mandate, BI-focused teams were formed, often in IT departments, and they began to approach the problem in the same manner as traditional IT projects, where the business makes a request of IT, IT logs a ticket, then fulfills the request following a waterfall methodology.

While this supplier/consumer approach to BI appeared to be well-suited for the task of centralizing an organization’s data and promoting consistency, it sacrificed business agility. There was a significant lag between the time the question was asked, and the time the question was answered. This delay and lack of agility within the analysis process led to lackluster adoption and low overall business impact.

The emergence of self-service BI in recent years has challenged the status quo, especially for IT professionals who have spent the better part of the past two decades building out a BI infrastructure designed for developing top-down, centralized reporting and dashboards. Initially, this self-service trend was viewed as a nuisance by most IT departments and was virtually ignored. The focus remained on producing a centrally-managed single source of truth for the organization.

Fast-forward to today and IT finds itself at a crossroad with self-service BI as the new normal that can no longer be ignored. The traditional approach to BI is becoming less and less relevant as the business demands the agility that comes with self-service to drive adoption and improve organization outcomes. This, paired with the continued exponential growth in data volume and complexity, presents IT with an important choice.

Either the demand for self-service BI is embraced, and IT evolves to become the enabler of the broader use and impact of analytics throughout their organizations, or it is ignored and IT continues as the producer of lower-value enterprise reporting stifled by the limitations of traditional tools. IT professionals who are ready to serve as a catalyst and embrace this opportunity will deliver far greater value to their organizations than those who choose to ignore the real needs of their business users and analysts.

As organizations begin the transition from a traditional top-down approach driven by IT to a self-service approach enabled by IT and led by the business, a new framework and overall strategy is required. This means that past decisions supporting the core foundational
components of a BI program—people, process, and platform—must be revisited. Adjustments are needed in these three core areas to support the shift from a model of top-down BI development and delivery to a self-service-based modern BI model which is driven, and
primarily executed on, by the business.

Self-service analytics does not mean end users are allowed unfettered access to any and all data and analytic content. It means they have the freedom to explore pertinent business data that is trusted, secure, and governed. This is where process comes into play and represents the component that requires the most significant shift in traditional thinking for IT. A successful modern BI program is able to deliver both IT control and end-user autonomy and agility. A well-established and well-communicated process is required for an organization to strike this delicate balance.

A top-down, waterfall-based process only addresses the IT control part of the equation. A traditional BI deployment focuses primarily on locking down data and content with governance. This means limiting access and freedom to only a few people with specialized technical skills who are expected to meet the needs and answer the questions of the many. This typically involves developer-centric processes to design and build the enterprise data warehouse (EDW) model, build the ETL jobs to transform and load data into the model, construct the semantic layer to mask the complexity of the underlying data structures, and finally build the businessfacing reports and dashboards as originally requested by the business.

The unfortunate reality is that this approach often fails to deliver on the vision and promise of BI—to deliver significant and tangible value to the organization through improved decision making with minimal time, effort, and cost. Top-down, IT-led BI models often have an inverse profile of time, effort, and cost relative to the value they deliver to the organization.

A modern analytics solution requires new processes and newly-defined organizational roles and responsibilities to truly enable a collaborative self-service-based development process. IT and users must collaborate to jointly develop the rules of the road for their secure environment that each other must abide by in order to maximize the business value of analytics without compromising on the governance or security of the data.

IT’s success is highlighted, and its value to the organization realized, when the business can realize significant value and benefit from investments in analytics and BI. Should IT still be considered successful even if not a single end-user utilizes the BI system to influence a single business decision? Traditional processes intended to serve top-down BI deployments are too often measured by metrics that are not tied to outcomes or organizational impact.

If the ETL jobs that IT created ran without failure and the EDW was loaded without error and all downstream reports refreshed, many IT organizations would consider themselves successful.

Merely supplying data and content to users without any regard for whether or not it is adopted and provides value through improved outcomes is simply not enough. Modern BI requires updated processes to support self-service analytics across the organization. It also
requires the definition of new success metrics for which IT and the business are jointly accountable and are therefore equally invested.

Where processes and technology intertwine, there is tremendous opportunity. Technical innovations, especially with AI, will continue to make it easier to automate processes and augment users of all skill levels throughout the analytics workflow. And while process can
accelerate, rather than inhibit, successful analytics outcomes, it’s important to recognize that this relies on a system and interface that people are eager to use. If processes aren’t supported by the right platform choice, they will stifle adoption.

Since BI has been historically viewed as an IT initiative, it is not surprising that IT drove virtually every aspect of platform evaluation, selection, purchasing, implementation, deployment, development, and administration. But with drastic changes required to modernize the people and process components of a BI and analytics program, IT must change the criteria for choosing the technology to meet these evolving requirements. Perhaps the most obvious change is that IT must intimately involve business users and analysts from
across the organization in evaluating and ultimately deciding which modern platform best fits the organization and addresses the broad needs of the users. For more information on selecting the right analytics platform, check out the Evaluation Guide.

A modern platform must address a wide range of needs and different personas as well as the increased pace of business and the exponential growth in data volume and complexity. IT requires that the chosen platform enables governance and security while end users require easy access to content and the ability to explore and discovery in a safe environment.

The chosen platform must also be able to evolve with the landscape and integrate easily with other systems within an organization. A centralized EDW containing all data needed for analysis, which was the cornerstone of traditional BI, is simply not possible in the big-data era. Organizations need a platform that can adapt to an evolving data landscape and insulate users from increased complexity and change.

The most critical aspect is the ability to meet these diverse needs in an integrated and intuitive way. This integration is depicted on the following page as the modern analytic workflow. The diagram highlights the five key capabilities that must flow seamlessly in order for the three personas depicted in the center to effectively leverage the platform.

The BI and analytics platform landscape has passed a tipping point, as the market for modern products is experiencing healthy growth while the traditional segment of the market is declining with little to no net new investment. IT leaders should capitalize on this market
shift and seize the opportunity to redefine their role in BI and analytics as a far more strategic one that is critical to the future success of the organization. Adopting a collaborative approach to recast the foundational aspects of the BI program and truly support self-service is the key to changing the perception of IT from a producer to a strategic partner and enabler for the organization.

In today’s era of digital transformation, IT leaders are increasingly expected to take on digital business initiatives in their organizations, including identifying cost savings and finding new revenue streams. Realizing the value of data for these transformational efforts, many businesses are modernizing and increasing their analytics investments to innovate and accelerate change.
Everyone agrees that putting data at the center of conversations promises change. However, most organizations are failing to successfully implement an enterprise-wide analytics program.

IT is well positioned for a leadership role in these efforts, and is essential for the task of giving people the relevant data they need for decision-making. Modern analytics shifts IT’s role to a more strategic partner for the business, empowering users to navigate a trusted, self-service environment. But beyond access to the data, everyone needs the motivation and confidence to properly make decisions with it. You need to identify the relationships between job functions and data and change behaviors that run deep into the fabric of your organization’s culture.

This also means expanding your definition of self-service so that business users participate in some of the traditionally IT-led responsibilities associated with data and analytics—like administration, governance, and education. With the right processes, standards, and change management, business users can help manage data sources, analytics content, and users in the system, as well as contribute to training, evangelism, and the internal community. When users value and participate in these efforts, IT can manage strategic initiatives like business SLAs and ensuring the security of company assets.

Although every organization’s journey to building a data-driven organization will differ, achieving your transformational goals requires a deliberate and holistic approach to developing your analytics practice. Success at scale relies on a systematic, agile approach to identify key sources of data, how data is selected, managed, distributed, consumed, and secured, and how users are educated and engaged. The better you understand your organization’s requirements, the better you will be able to proactively support the broad use of data.

Tableau Blueprint provides concrete plans, recommendations, and guidelines as a step-by-step guide to creating a data-driven organization with modern analytics. We worked with thousands of customers and analytics experts to capture best practices that help turn repeatable processes into core capabilities to build and reinforce a data-driven mindset throughout your organization.
Learn more and get started today.

About Tableau
Tableau is a complete, integrated, and enterprise-ready visual analytics platform that helps people and organizations become more data driven. Whether on-premises or in the cloud, on Windows or Linux, Tableau leverages your existing technology investments and scales with you as your data environment shifts and grows. Unleash the power of your most valuable assets: your data and your people.


By Chet Kapoor, Chairman & CEO of DataStax

Enterprises have been talking about digital transformation for quite a while. It’s about rethinking how we use technology to drive new or improved strategy, people, and operations to meet changing business and customer needs. But what does digital transformation mean for the CIO? How has their role evolved through the three stages of transformation, and what does this mean for the future? Let’s dive in.

Stage 1: app modernization

During this stage of transformation, the industry solved for scale-out networking, connecting to billions of devices and apps. When SaaS apps and mobile started taking off, the CIO was not as involved in app modernization. They were sitting back and letting the chief digital officer or business units drive because apps and mobile were not the core business.

Stage 2: cloud

The second stage of digital transformation was cloud. (And many of us are still on this journey, by the way.) It is all about using scale-out computing to run billions of instances on cloud and mobile apps. This is when we saw CIOs came back into the game, saying, “I think we are doing well on app monetization, but the only way we’re going to see true digital transformation is if we become a cloud company.” Enterprises need agility not just with the app but also with the backend systems. The customer wants to have an experience across the entire company — not just with what they’re seeing on their screens.

The final frontier: data

The awesome stuff is in the third stage of transformation, which is led by data. Today, we’re solving the challenges of massively scaling out data. And now, not only have we seen CIOs come to the front, but they’re starting to lead the business. Now they can sit with their colleagues and say, “We have the app, we can deliver something new in three months, and we can do it with high availability and cost efficiency.”

Winning in the age of data

Today, we face unprecedented challenges: an uncertain economy, ongoing pandemic impact, and rising privacy and security concerns, to name just a few. But leading companies and CIOs know that data is the most valuable asset, driving intelligent decisions and stronger customer engagement. It’s not enough to deliver results in quarters or years — we have to drive outcomes in days and weeks.

Only real-time data powers the speed and scale required for businesses to move markets. The problem is that many still rely on old architectures that are costly, hard to scale, and not able to meet current market demands. The solution is the Real-Time Data Cloud. It brings together operational and streaming data in a cloud-native architecture that is:

Purpose-built for developers with the APIs of their choice and zero opsInfinitely scalable with world-class volume, latency, and availabilityBased on open-source technologies for community innovationServerless and multi-region for market-leading unit economicsAnd enterprise-ready with multi- and inter- cloud capabilities, as well as the necessary security and governance measures

Let’s look at ESL Gaming, the world’s largest eSports network, as an example. ESL supports the most popular video game competitions and has more than 11 million members. In a live gaming tournament, the players are competing in real time — communicating with each other, making split-second decisions, and taking immediate actions. ESL’s data and applications have to be fast and reliable to meet gamer expectations around the clock and around the globe. Their operations rely on the Real-Time Data Cloud.

This is the new class of apps and experiences, combining “data at rest” and “data in motion” to deliver more value, faster. There is a huge opportunity for CIOs to join company leaders and help drive business outcomes with real-time data.

The ongoing role of CIOs

In this third stage of digital transformation, technology leaders need to ask themselves the right questions, including: How can we excel at using data to drive growth? How do we activate our data to create value and deliver awesome customer experiences in real time? How does our company gain a competitive advantage using data? How can we leverage technologies like AI and ML to make that happen?

Today, the most successful CIOs have a seat at the table, not as technology providers, but as business partners to the CEO and leaders of the business units. Those who don’t show up as business leaders will fall behind and become back-office patrons.

Learn more about DataStax here.

About Chet Kapoor:

Chet is Chairman and CEO of DataStax. He is a proven leader and innovator in the tech industry with more than 20 years in leadership at innovative software and cloud companies, including Google, IBM, BEA Systems, WebMethods, and NeXT. As Chairman and CEO of Apigee, he led company-wide initiatives to build Apigee into a leading technology provider for digital business. Google (Apigee) is the cross-cloud API management platform that operates in a multi- and hybrid-cloud world. Chet successfully took Apigee public before the company was acquired by Google in 2016. Chet earned his B.S. in engineering from Arizona State University.

Digital Transformation, IT Leadership

Global PC manufacturer Lenovo has upward of 70,000 employees worldwide, delivering round-the-clock IT services, and Arthur Hu, the company’s SVP and global CIO—and as of April 2022, also the Services & Solutions Group CTO—is in a constant state of getting the most out of related teams, management and himself to cement partnerships, and achieve optimum performance.

Leveraging invention, creating new services, R&D and capabilities are integral to strengthening the business, and as his overlapping roles evolve, the underlining discipline for success is being resilient, based on long-term planning to build health, or, as Hu calls it, have “shock absorbers.” “It’s important to widen the aperture of the lens in which you look at the world,” he says.

In hindsight, the company’s response to the pandemic resulted in better architecture that allowed capacity to meet any eventuality. “It’s about how can you respond better and tolerate the unknowns,” he says. But there’s a balance to not just find, but constantly monitor, interpret and question what is in balance and why—it’s never a “set and forget” framework just because the height of the pandemic is in the rearview mirror. “One of the other broader business lessons coming out of it is understanding that sheer efficiency, or efficiency taken to an extreme, may not be good,” he says. “That means you are optimized, but with a very narrow focus.”

With Hu’s CTO role in particular, there is a distinct and broad focus on the dynamics of the external market.

“In the CTO role, I’m spending more time with our partners and customers because they are excellent providers of input and intelligence on what is happening and where things are likely headed,” he says. “I think the external to internal ratio of time spent is much higher on the CTO side because it’s a very business-leaning and business-oriented role.”

Foundry’s John Gallant recently spoke with Hu about adaptation into his various roles, and the methods involved to maximize potential without compromise. Here are some edited excerpts of that conversation. Watch the full video below for more insights.

On the reshaped CIO role: CIOs are now part of the shaping and evolving of future business models, whether it’s about how to extend the core business, or incubate and help think about what a future growth engine might be. CIOs also represent and advocate for user experience more. Because you have more online channels, and even offline channels—or traditional ways of interacting—they’re being augmented with technology intelligence. So the CIO naturally has data on all those services, products, or offerings that are being used, and understands what customers and users say about the company in the real world. Each of those things is valuable independently, but they’re even more powerful when put together. Another area is in participating around environmental, social, and governance (ESG). This is definitely farther afield than a more traditional tech-based role. But the amount of data required to formulate and execute thoughtful ESG initiatives is quite large. And, again, this makes the CIO a natural stakeholder and partner with the business teams as companies invest more in this space.

On priorities: For CIOs today, it starts with a recognition that the computing and IT environment is more complex than ever. It’s critical to find solutions that are simple as possible, and easy to use, scale, and adapt as circumstances change. What’s an important corollary to this is value capture. Digital transformation has been on the agenda for many years and companies have put their wallets where their mouths are, investing billions of dollars. So if you think about the journey, when we first started, a CIO could ask for time to show results. But as months turn into quarters and quarters turn into years, then you actually have to deliver otherwise you risk stranded investments and disenchantment from the business. So first recognize the obvious value of the technology you’ve invested in. At the same time, build resiliency against volatility and uncertainty. Then it’s about building enterprise agility. Not just agile software teams, but ways to help turn the company into one that can go quicker at speed. In my CIO role, I have to help the company build a new set of infrastructure processes, tools, and system. Our partners need to be along with us in the journey. As you go from there, the discussion naturally follows. If any IT or CIO team is saddled with, “Go make the SaaS happen,” I think that’s an indicator that the business is thinking the wrong way. It’s key to understand where the journey is, how cloud computing capabilities can help you accelerate, and then make sure it’s together with the business.

On blending roles: I started in the CTO role for the Solutions and Services Group (SSG) earlier this year. Stepping back, I think when I started in the CIO role, topics such as digital transformation and business agility were top of mind. And as time went on, as I was able to work with the team and deliver for the company, we were always looking at how to bring together the technology fluency with the business insight. It’s that duality where, as we thought about the future and our SSG, we needed more of that blend. So the additional CTO role is a natural extension of that. There are three things that form the theory of this case. As we were thinking about why this could make sense, one is that as CIO, I was already building capabilities. Second is delivering services. Third is how that creates business opportunities. On creating and building capabilities, I was already doing that for Lenovo. And the nature of those capabilities was to think about how we quote for our salespeople, make our partner portal frictionless, and make our supplier portal great for collaboration with our extended ecosystem of suppliers.

On self development: I went through an exercise of writing down my assumptions of what makes a good CIO and what I’ve learned as Lenovo’s CIO over the past five years. Then I explicitly tried to either validate or cross them out as I went along because I knew it’d be dangerous to assume I’m just picking up another IT team. That has helped me accelerate the learning journey by not making hidden assumptions. The CIO role is being a natural advocate for experience. In the CTO role, there’s a higher premium and requirement that we’re externally facing. I’m spending more time with our partners and customers because they are excellent providers of input and intelligence on what’s happening and where things are likely headed.

CIO, Cloud Management, IT Leadership, Roles

As companies start to adapt data-first strategies, the role of chief data officer is becoming increasingly important, especially as businesses seek to capitalize on data to gain a competitive advantage. A role historically focused on data governance and compliance, the scope of responsibilities for CDOs has since grown, pushing them to become strategic business leaders, according to data from IDC.

According to the survey, 80% of the top KPIs that CDOs report focusing on are business oriented. The top five KPIs for CDOs include operational efficiency, data privacy and protection, productivity and capacity, innovation and revenue, and customer satisfaction and success. And 87% of CXOs said that “becoming a more intelligent enterprise is their top priority by 2025,” with 52% of CDOs reporting to a business leader.

If you’re looking to embark on an executive career as a CDO, you’ll need a strong resume. But you don’t need to feel intimidated when writing your executive-level CV; you just need to do a little research. Here are tips from technology resume experts on how to write the ideal resume for chief data officer positions, along with one shining example.

1. Focus on transformation

Data has become a top priority for businesses large and small, and while some companies have already established a digital strategy, many of them are just getting started. As CDO you’ll likely be tasked with some type of digital or data transformation, whether it’s a complete overall of a company’s data practices, or helping a company improve or advance their data strategy to the next level.

“When preparing a resume for CDO roles, each candidate must consider their audience, as different companies include a range of duties into each role. However, the ability to drive digital technology transformation is going to be the focus,” says Stephen Van Vreede, resume expert at IT Tech Exec.

To demonstrate your ability to lead data transformations, you’ll want to highlight relevant skills such as business strategy, strategic planning, business operations, data governance, goal alignment, data security, data sourcing, technology roadmap development, change management, communication, and team leadership.

Analytics, Careers, Data Management, IT Leadership, Resumes

By Milan Shetti, CEO Rocket Software

Modernization has become a hot-button topic across the tech and business landscape. With ongoing advancements in cloud technology and the seemingly unlimited potential of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) technologies, many organizations are eager to digitally transform and modernize their operations and software applications. In fact, 80% of IT decision-makers say their companies plan to have modernized more than half of their custom applications before the end of 2022.

With a significant push toward infrastructure modernization, many organizations have hired Chief Modernization Officers (CMOs) to help navigate the complexities of this undertaking. But many still question the need for a CMO when they already have a Chief Technology Officer (CTO) in house. While most C-suite level positions are clearly defined, the CMO and CTO’s roles and responsibilities are uniquely intertwined and often confused as being the same — but this is not the case. For companies looking to modernize their infrastructure, it is important to recognize the differences between a CTO and CMO and understand what each position brings to the table and why both are essential to achieve true modernization.

Defining the roles of CTOs and CMOs Starts with defining modernization 

The CTO and CMO positions are often confused because the word modernization has different meanings for different people. To many business leaders, modernization is about driving evolution and the creation of new business models by implementing innovative technologies and methodologies to improve operations. This, however, is a better definition for the process of digital transformation and is chiefly what CTOs work to achieve. 

The CTO’s role is to stay at the forefront of emerging technologies and practices and understand how processes can be changed and improved through their implementation. A CTO is focused on creating great experiences and offerings for customers, clients, and partners of an organization, taking a pragmatic approach to improve business outcomes, often leading with a “rip and replace” mentality for underutilized or underperforming technology.

Modernization, on the other hand, is a more internal and holistic process that focuses on understanding and preparing a company’s infrastructure, technology, and products to succeed in a fast-changing, digital world without upending a company’s current operating model. A successful modernization operation is a continuum and CMOs have the expertise and attention to detail to constantly analyze operations, uncover opportunities to optimize, and ensure modernization projects align with business and customer goals. CMOs consider the company’s business operations as a whole, not only evaluating the time and resources needed to achieve a particular modernization project but also how it will affect operations along all departments and whether it is worth the effort. 

Balancing the two to create true modernization

Often, large-scale transformation projects are unsuccessful because organizations fail to recognize that true modernization requires continuous transformation and a wholly pragmatic approach to modernizing tools and processes. While CTOs bring exciting and innovative techniques and tools to the table, CMOs bring the rationality and necessity required for projects to succeed.

In the end, businesses that are successful in their modernization ventures understand that it is not a matter of one or the other when it comes to CMOs and CTOs — but, rather, a balancing of the two. By fusing the creativity and forward-thinking mindset of a CTO together with the pragmatic, strategic approaches of a CMO, companies can stay on the cutting edge of innovation while bringing true modernization to their operations.

To learn how Rocket Software’s suite of technologies can help simplify and streamline your organization’s modernization efforts, visit the Rocket Software modernization page.

Digital Transformation

“As a first-time CIO, there are things you’ve never done before, and conversations you’ve never had before, at this level, in this role,” recounts Sarah Cockrill, who is one year into the director of digital strategy and information technology position at Canterbury University, in Kent, England.

“You almost don’t want to say to your boss, ‘I don’t know how to do this’, because you’ve just had an interview where you’ve taught them how amazing you are, and how you can do the job.”

Cockrill’s story is a familiar tale for first-time CIOs burgeoning with experience and ideas, but are still learning the ropes in an unfamiliar role.

The changing CIO role means new skills are required

Technology leaders today are expected to be business leaders first and IT leaders second, articulating what technology can do for the organization top-down and bottom-up.

And yet, despite past proclamations of IT being confined to a back-office order-taker, some suggest this is how it should have always been; William Synnott and William Gruber first coined the chief information officer term in their 1981book, Information Resource Management: Opportunities and Strategies for the 1980s, arguing at the time that IT was strategic, not simply a means to reduce costs, and that employing a C-level technology executive could offer a competitive advantage.

With IT arguably more influential and less of a commodity than at any point over the last 20 years, Sainsbury’s Group CIO Phil Jordan believes incoming CIOs need to be business-savvy influencers, capable of leading teams and demystifying technology rather than the technical project managers of the past.

“I would put more emphasis in business acumen, commercial understanding, data analytics…and understanding how the business is going to be changed by technology…than I would on the skill set when I started, which was about supplier management, project management…and technical delivery history,” says Jordan.

Dominic Howson, CIO at waste management firm Viridor and Next CIO UK judge, sees today’s CIO as needing to be a ‘souped-up’ business analyst, understanding business processes, knowing how technology can impact different business functions, and having a degree of financial nous.

“Ten years ago, the CIO was the back-office guy or girl who kept the lights on and worried about backups, availability and capacity,” says Howson. “Now it’s the role of business leader [who is] front and centre of the company’s strategy.”

Yet there’s an understanding, too, that the CIO should be a people leader, first and foremost. Natalie Whittlesey, director at recruitment firm Investigo, says recruiters want to see strong communication and people skills.

“They often spend as much time talking about personality traits as experience requirements,” she says of clients, adding having the ability to influence, having a low-ego, being collaborative, and able to inspire people and take them on a journey.

“Good EQ and personal traits are incredibly important, but they’re also the most difficult to nurture as people often have traits that remain relatively static over time. So the ability to self-reflect, seek feedback and self-develop is also valuable,” she adds.

Whittlesey also says that the COVID-19 pandemic, which led many leaders including Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella to say that digital transformation initiatives were accelerated from years to months, pushed CIOs to be more product and customer focused.

“I spoke with a CEO last week who lost 70% of his business revenue within weeks, as the vast majority of his field workforce were confined to [working from] home,” says Whittlesey. “He couldn’t rely on other regions to make up the numbers, as they were impacted too. This required quick thinking by his leadership team to limit losses. It also resulted in a rapid shift towards escalating digital revenues.”

There’s no rule to CIO experience

A 2021 Hays report found that most CIOs surveyed held 15 to 20 years of experience in a related field before becoming a CIO, and about a quarter reported having 10 to 15 years before making the same leap.

“I had 17 years of experience before I undertook my first CIO role, but it’s dependent on the individual and the organization,” says Stantec group IT director Dave Roberts. “Not all CIO roles are equal, and it’s important to differentiate between what would have been called an IT or software development manager, or being called a CIO or a CTO in smaller organizations.”

Whittlesey believes recruiters and hiring managers are now more interested in experience over the last five years rather than the last 15 to 20, owing to more diverse career pathways and the continued pace of change in the technology market.

“If a client requests more than 10 years of senior experience, I tend to challenge them,” she says. “Many people—particularly women—move into IT via a sideways step. They might get involved with a technology project or program, get spotted by the CIO, CTO, CDIO and get encouraged to apply for a technology role, for example.

“This might mean they had five to 10 years in HR, operations or marketing before moving across to IT, where they thrive and get promoted quickly.”

Whittlesey admits that experience can give business leaders a sense of security, as proven CIOs will have the battle scars to handle any number of situations, but ultimately recommends leaving the issue of experience with the hiring manager.

How to prepare for a first-time CIO role

Preparing for the CIO role can take many forms, from volunteering for initiatives outside IT and developing through secondments, to taking on non-executive director (NED) positions.

Viridor’s Howson recommends getting outside your organization—and outside your comfort zone—to build a strong breadth of understanding.

“Go to customer-led vendor presentations,” he says. “Understand how other businesses utilise technology. Work outside of IT, in the business on a secondment. While in IT, get experience in every part of the function: service, infrastructure, development, support, architecture.”

Cockrill believes her time working as a business analyst was beneficial, as she got visibility of projects being delivered into HR, finance and other departments. Speaking of her own ascent into the CIO position, she says she had two streams of a working plan.

“One was making sure I took any opportunity in the workplace I could to broaden my skills,” she says, adding she would often volunteer for opportunities with her director while looking externally.

“The other was I started a school governor, then I did chair of resources. That gave me some of the leadership experience that I wasn’t able to get at work. Working with the BCS, or doing speaking events…all added to my knowledge and helped me create that rounded CV that I could say I’m ready. If you’re being interviewed for a CIO, and all you know is your technology…and you can’t talk about it in that bigger picture, there’s a gap.”

Whittlesey argues that clients are less interested in degrees or MBAs these days, even if Roberts says the latter can teach would-be leaders wider business principles and leadership skills. Instead, she says, hiring managers want to see evidence of credibility and commercial understanding; an ability to speak the language of the business, a willingness to change, evidence of personal growth, and proof of delivering technology programs across business.

Then there’s the small issue of visibility in order to get that elusive opportunity.

“Make sure you’re in people’s line of sight,” says Howson. “Think about your profile. How can you get more exposure to the decision makers. Find a way of being part of the bigger conversations. And think about your personal brand in all meetings and interactions.”

Overcoming imposter syndrome and the first 90 days as CIO

Despite the seniority of the CIO role, those who occupy it can still suffer from imposter syndrome and a lack of confidence. In particular, new CIOs may wrestle with that nagging question: Am I good enough?

“Many people talk about imposter syndrome, but it’s only through experience that you gain the necessary skills to be an effective leader,” says Stantec’s Roberts, a judge on Next CIO UK.

“Imposter syndrome can also be an issue when someone looks to break out of a particular industry and start a leadership role in a different type of organization,” he says. “It’s the fear of the unknown that will sometimes hold people back. Embrace new challenges. They’ll always provide a valuable lesson and the experience will help you improve and develop.”

Whittlesey adds: “Try to find reasons to rule yourself into an opportunity instead of ruling yourself out. It doesn’t matter if you don’t succeed. It’s better to be in with a chance than not to apply at all.”

Once in role, new CIOs must think of how they approach those first 90 days. Howson, Whittlesey, Roberts and Cockrill recommend learning about the business, its objectives and the strengths and weaknesses of your team, as well as developing internal relationships and benchmarking your position to gauge future progress.

Howson says CIOs should discover what the business thinks of IT, align their department’s objectives to those of the business, and discover shadow IT and tech spend not accounted for in the budget. He also calls for CIOs to understand their contractual positions, and ‘kick the tires’ on everything from compliance to cybersecurity, and find out where the quick wins are to gain early kudos.

The new CIO should also build networks internally and externally to stave off loneliness, says Cockrill, who says you can’t have the same relationship with team members as you would with peers, and that CIOs are naturally segregated from other senior leaders in HR, estates and finance. “Be bold and don’t be afraid of failure,” says Howson. “If you’re in a position to make the jump, the chances are you know your stuff.”

Careers, CIO

What’s in a name? For Chris Bedi, who joined ServiceNow as CIO in September 2015, a lot: the company recently gave him a new title, chief digital information officer, and rebranded his IT team as “digital technology.”

“The rebranding is an acknowledgement of how the role has changed,” he says, but is also intended to reinforce various mindsets that he wants the whole team to adopt.

When Bedi joined the company, his primary mission was to enable “scale-for-growth.” Back then, he says, the company had around 2,800 employees, a quarter of the headcount today, and was still seen as an IT solutions company as its other workflow management products hadn’t yet taken off.

His role included the familiar responsibilities for IT infrastructure, network connectivity, cybersecurity, delivering collaboration and communication tools for existing staff, and provisioning them for new employees so they have what they need to be productive from day one.

Another big component of the job back then, he says, was keeping the information needed to run the business “at our fingertips.” These analytics tools were basic apps, but not trivial, he says.

AI and machine learning were only just beginning to creep into discussion of analytics in 2015, and the ServiceNow team devoted to the technology was tiny.

“At the time, we had a team of three people focused on AI and ML who were largely — this is 2015, you have to remember — just running experiments on AI and ML,” Bedi says. “Nobody knew what the heck to do with it; nobody had really bought into it. But these were data scientists tinkering with data, producing some insights.”

That’s changed in the intervening years, of course.

Digital brain

One milestone for the analytics organization came in late 2018, with a shift in focus away from dashboards and KPIs and toward becoming a digital brain. “We toyed around with the name: digital brain, central nervous system — for the organization,” he says. “We said our mission should become making sure anything that has a rating, recommendation or forecast in our organization is enabled by an AI and ML recommendation.”

That mission soon evolved again, into helping every persona make more effective decisions, and now results in over 3 million recommendations per day, he says. “Surfacing AI and ML recommendations is great, but unless we’re also prescriptive in terms of the actions we want people to take, and give them a closed loop, a human in the loop, to tell us whether those suggestions were useful, we’re missing the mark.”

The way the analytics team analyses its own performance has also evolved, from a count of monthly active users of the analytics products to a focus on their satisfaction with the recommendations they are receiving. “It has to be, ‘What’s the percentage of actions recommended versus actions taken?’ That was a big shift,” he says.

Bedi’s responsibilities have grown in other ways too. While his team isn’t responsible for the Now Platform infrastructure on which the company’s SaaS offering runs, it does maintain the Now Learning training platform and  ServiceNow Impact, a customer success app for helping clients track their digital transformations.

Cybersecurity is no longer just about protecting corporate IT infrastructure, but also the company’s revenue-generating cloud, and even ensuring that customers are using the company’s services securely to mitigate reputational risk.

And scaling the company has moved from simply supporting more employees to getting the most from existing staff. “The purpose of this is to drive an incredible employee experience that helps our employees be more engaged and productive,” he says. “If I zoom out, the role has evolved from largely internal, scale and risk mitigation, to very externally focused, critical to driving our strategy, critical to driving growth, and looked at as a lot more strategic than in 2015.”

Embracing citizen developers

Bedi says he’s a voracious reader, but also has a strong bias for action when it comes to picking up new skills. “Let’s go do it and figure it out as we go,” he says. “People use the term ‘fail fast’ but I like the term ‘learn fast’ better.”

That was his approach when it came to the adoption of low-code development tools internally at ServiceNow.

“We were having one of those debates with no finish line around citizen development,” he says. Those in favor wanted to see the benefits right away; those against feared an accumulation of technology debt in the organization.

In situations like these, he says, there are three choices as CIOs. “You can try to block it — but you’re never going to win that battle,” he says. “You can ignore it. That’s what you’re doing today, whether you know it or not, because people are out there already with point solutions. The only logical choice left, and this is a conversation I had with my team, is to embrace it. So, we embraced it.”

ServiceNow’s employees have embraced it too, with over 400 of them active as citizen developers, 100 applications in service, and another 100 applications due to go live in the next couple of months, Bedi says.

As progress gains momentum, he has some advice for other CIOs getting ready to embrace citizen development in their enterprise. First, he says, keep governance lightweight yet sufficient. One way to do this is to provide trusted data sets for things citizen developers are sure to want, which must be done properly to avoid things breaking — something like an organization hierarchy and an employee directory for apps involving approvals, for example, or a cost-center hierarchy for anything involving spending.

Second, he says, avoid discouraging new developers by limiting the reasons for refusal of a project: no duplicate apps (although replacing an app with a better one is allowed); no getting in over your head (so if an interesting idea looks likely to be too complex for the citizen developer, his team members may step in to help); and no handling of overly sensitive data (but if the idea is good, his team may take on the project).

His third recommendation is to make it easy for people to get started. His team did this by providing an introductory class — “It was short enough where people wouldn’t be discouraged,” he says — and holding office hours where citizen developers can call in for help.

Finally, he advises, amplify success by celebrating the citizen developers’ applications. “I have a selfish interest in this program taking off,” he says, “because they’re helping with one of my core missions: digitize the enterprise.”

If citizen development is handled correctly, and if CIOs, CDIOs, and CTOs can embrace all these people, Bedi says, then we can do away with the term shadow IT and its negative connotations.

And perhaps this will help with another problem he and CIOs like him face: the shortage of skilled software developers. “I can never get enough of them,” Bedi says.

Analytics, Application Management, Artificial Intelligence, CIO, Digital Transformation, IT Skills, Machine Learning

When your children, friends, or acquaintances, ask what you do for a living, how do you, a CIO, answer them? “I am the future of our business” sounds a bit megalomaniacal, and “I manage the technology function” does not begin to do justice to the impact of your work. 

Since my team and I spend all day every day helping companies define their technology leadership needs, I have a vested interest in creating some clarity around the CIO role. So, I did what I always do when I am in need of information: I asked a bunch of CIOs. Here’s what they had to say.

How technical does a CIO need to be? 

Last year, I was recruiting a CIO for a large global services business whose IT organization employed more than 600 people. My client, the CEO, was very happy with our lead candidate’s ability to influence, lead, think strategically, establish business partnerships, and execute. Just before moving to an offer, my client asked, “But is he technical enough?” I assured him that our finalist was technical enough, but I thought to myself, “What does that even mean? Will this C-level executive be asked to write code?”

John Hill, CIDO of MSC Industrial Supply, spends less of his time thinking deeply about technology and more about bringing organizational digital agility to MSC. “CIOs do not need to be technology experts,” he says. “Today’s CIOs are the designers of organizations that can keep 25 balls in the air; and they know how all those balls fit into the digital vision years from now.”

When I do “talk tech” with CIOs, I find that we are no longer actually talking about technology. What we tend to talk about now are “platforms.” But what are these platforms and why are they so important? For Wafaa Mamilli, CIDO of animal health business Zoetis, platforms are at the heart of her role. “My job as CIDO is to lead a team that uses platforms to power our existing businesses and create new lines of business,” she says. “My role is less about technology and more about finding the next area for revenue and value generation.”

The ascent of CIO as value creator

Mamilli brings up an important point about the changing role of the CIO. After so many years of “IT is a cost center,” it is refreshing to see so many technology leaders describe their role as value creation and even business model change.

As Sanjib Sahoo, chief digital officer of Ingram Micro, sees it, “Once a company has transformed from traditional IT to a platform-driven business, the technology leadership role must shift to value creation,” he says. “The technology leaders of the future will have the technology depth and business acumen to be the bridge to value. Maybe the CIO, CTO, or CDO becomes the chief value officer, but whatever the title, the focus is not on developing an AI engine or bringing a new tool to market. It is in improving EBITDA and the experience of everyone involved in the journey. The focus is on business model change, not just another technology tool in the bag.”

CIOs at the center of digital transformation

Even as I write this, I realize that my first three quotes are not from chief information officers, but from chief information digital officers. These “digital” executives typically manage the IT organization, but their title signifies something more. As long as we are asking some fundamental questions about the CIO role, let’s poke at this “digital” concept a bit. What is digital and what does it mean for the CIO?

Regardless of whether you have digital in your title or not, as CIO, you have significant accountability for creating a digital business, but you do not own digital the way you own IT.  “Digital is not an IT function,” says Irvin Bishop, CIO of Black & Veatch. “Digital is sales, marketing, finance, legal, and operations — everything. I spend significant time evangelizing, carrying the digital torch, and collaborating with my business partners on how to shift our investments from run, to grow and transform.”

Deepak Kaul, CIO of Zebra Technologies, reinforces the critical role that CIOs play in driving digital literacy: “Digital transformation is not a one-time event,” he says. “By the time we are done implementing one wave, there will be a new one. CIOs are evolving from technologist and strategist to catalyst. Future CIOs will be evangelists of digital dexterity.”

The CIO’s evolving data role

Data falls into a similar category as digital. CIOs are responsible for building an enterprise data and analytics capability, but they do not own data as a function. If that is the case, where should the data and analytics function sit? Some companies put it under finance, others marketing, and others operations. In this humble executive recruiter’s opinion, most companies will wind up with a hub and spoke model, which Kaul is employing at Zebra.

“In IT, we have traditionally focused on protecting the single source of truth, but our business functions want to experiment with the data,” says Kaul. “So, at Zebra, we created a hub-and-spoke model, where the hub is data engineering and the spokes are machine learning experts embedded in the business functions. We kept the data warehouse but augmented it with a cloud-based enterprise data lake and ML platform. The core customer data stays pristine in the data warehouse, but once the data goes into the lake, the business functions can experiment. This model allows us pivot from a data defensive to a data offensive position.”

The CIO’s new remit regarding business risk

Now I’ve got it. The CIO role is less about technology and more about platforms, value creation, data, digital literacy, and business model change. But wait! What about risk? What about security? What is the CIO’s responsibility for the other side of the digital investment coin?

This is a question that Rhonda Gass, CIO of Stanley Black & Decker, faced head on. For a while at Stanley Black & Decker, the product group led the commercial technology roadmap, manufacturing led operations technology investments, and IT led business technology. “Individual risks in a particular silo might seem minor, but as those risks stack up, they can lead to a major impact on our customers, employees, or brand,” says Gass. “We recognized that the company needed an enterprise view of digital risk, so my team has taken on that leadership role. As CIO, I look across the entire company and drive digital risk management.”

CIOs as catalysts for culture change

Whether focused on digital, data, platforms, or value, all of these CIOs, it seems, are actively connecting the dots. With most leaders laser focused on their own business or function, someone needs to look across the entire business at opportunity, risk, and perhaps most importantly, cultural change. There is some irony in the fact that CIOs, with their technology background, are accountable for much of the people side of cultural change, but increasingly, that is the case.  

For Madhuri Andrews, CIDO of Jacobs Engineering, creating cultural change is at the heart of her role: “My role is both as a consultative partner to the business and as a mentor to the IT organization,” she says. “If I can connect people to the purpose, they will think more creatively. I can go into the weeds on any technology, but my more important role is to ensure that the work we are doing in IT is connected to the overall Jacobs strategy.”

The CIO of the future

So, there you have it! The simple definition of the CIO role is to have accountability for digital, data, cultural change, business model transformation, platform strategy, and value creation. Or as Will Lee, CIO of The Hanover, puts it, “For years, CIOs have worked hard to make IT a utility where, like electricity, it just works. But now, CIOs are shifting from running a utility to being thoughtful business partners focused on business solutions. Our role will be to work with our business leaders to co-create the dream.”

Well, when you put it that way, “I am the future of our business” might not be so off the mark, after all.

CIO, IT Leadership