The Changing Role of the CIO

Once a bastion of technical experts, in recent years the CIO role has evolved into a more business-focused position. According to a survey in CIO Magazine, many now feel that their cloud experience has provided sufficient commercial nous to prepare CIOs for the CEO position. This is yet to be realised, with few CEOs coming up from the ranks of CIO, but with increasing reliance on the cloud, it seems a significant shift is occurring.

The shift towards commercial over technical skills can be seen throughout the IT sector, with increasing specialisation of programming skills alongside the gradual integration of business processes into the IT landscape. Attaining proficiency in multiple coding languages is no longer as lucrative as it once would have been, with many tasks being offshored by all sizes of organisation, while a UK-based team focuses on strategy. Although a good understanding of the working of a system is useful, it is return on investment that is critical to the business.

There is also an element of fear that is rapidly evaporating, as executives and members of the board have come to understand the basics of IT. On being presented with a simple bill for supposedly essential products and services, they are now asking for the IT department to justify its outlay, and can ask for them to look for cost-saving alternatives to traditional solutions. Now that technology is no longer revered in the same way it once was, organisations are beginning to treat it like any other commodity. When vying for the CIO position, those with a purely technical background will increasingly find themselves losing out to those with a more rounded skill set. At the same time, it is becoming less and less acceptable for CEOs to be ignorant of the technology driving their business.