This new normal opens the door for the transformative CIO to leave the back office and take a seat at the executive table with a solid claim to the digital space, often encompassing the CDO role. That convergence of roles can allow CIOs to provide organizations with the vision, disruptive strategy and spending muscle that turn innovation into measurable growth and revenue.
Who’s doing what?
The organizational purpose of the CDO role is in flux, while CIOs begin to grasp the potential of digital data and analytics to leverage their visibility and clout with the C-suite, most notably the CEO.
Some companies may choose to retain both roles, especially if reporting structure has allowed the CDO to gain the direct confidence of the CEO. But the impact of the global pandemic, followed by the economic downturn, have provided opportunities for forward-looking CIOs to make a move into the digital arena, leading to more strategic and centralized technology operations for their organizations.
The CIO role is evolving at different speeds across industries. For instance, in the government and public sector, as well as energy — oil, gas and utilities — a lag in digital technology progression tends to keep the CIO’s head down, focused on maintaining the status quo. But health care is beginning to catch up, while the consumer sector leads the trend toward a more strategic CIO leadership role that embraces digital as a matter of course.
Moving forward, the most influential CIOs will combine a keen ability to identify, understand and implement emerging innovations while managing an expansive tech investment portfolio on the day-to-day operations side of the house — much of which can, and should, be offloaded to trusted counterparts within and outside the organization.
There are a few key areas where a strategic blend of resources can free up CIOs to play a higher-impact role for their CEOs and their companies.
Pay off technology debt
For visionary, enterprising CIOs, legacy technology debt is a daily drain on their power source. Outdated systems, substandard software platforms and thousands of lines of old, unnecessary code drain the CIO’s agility and attention, keeping their heads down in the back office and inhibiting their ability to look up and forward. An investment in technology transformation with a relatively small on-premises footprint can alleviate that pressure on the CIO and open up new possibilities for innovation.
Get the right guidance
Undertaking a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) can be daunting and time consuming. Off-the-shelf or custom? Which alliance partner? What if the investment fails? With the right collaborators, CIOs can save themselves valuable time and their organizations money, allowing a blend of external and internal resources to do the heavy lifting so they can keep their eyes on the big picture, with the confidence they are advising the CEO and the business for maximum benefit and revenue growth.
Define roles and responsibilities
The most successful CIOs will work in tandem with other executive officers while maintaining ownership of the technology enterprise, including investment in emerging digital technologies to drive both revenue and organizational efficiencies. The CDO may serve as a trusted advisor, with customer interests as their mandate.