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Seven key takeaways for CIOs and data leaders in a time of disruption

The inaugural Tech Icons Council highlighted the evolving strategic role of the CIO, talent, cybersecurity and digital transformation.

In brief

  • Participating tech leaders said that more of their time is shifting toward acting as an enabler among different business groups in areas such as AI.
  • Another main concern was improving corporate culture. One said: “It’s up to us to invest in our people. It’s not just training and educating.”

If data is the lifeblood of companies, then the CIO maintains the circulatory system — the orchestrator that makes connections and enables other functions to keep operating smoothly. And with technology underpinning the operations of every company, and with every company striving to be a technology company in some fashion, it’s no wonder that CIOs find themselves dealing with a mix of opportunity and ambiguity regarding the nature of their jobs.

The inaugural Tech Icons Council connection took place in August near Carlsbad, California. The meeting allowed leading technology executives to embark on a journey of sparking new connections and improving businesses, as well as redefining the role and impact of the CIO. Here are the key takeaways.


Seven takeaways for CIOs in a time of disruption:


  1. As economic indicators point in every direction, technology is accelerating toward a more autonomous posture to prepare for a future with very different demographic and talent trends.
  2. In a time of geopolitical turmoil, one source of bipartisan agreement is that businesses, depending on the sector, may need assistance in orienting their supply bases and operations more toward the US and its allies.
  3. The digital age allows companies to do more and be more, and investors expect that mentality. Top tech companies intuitively strive to penetrate not just their immediate niches but all those that are tangential — and keep going into goods, services, memberships and more. Data fuels these transformations, so CIOs can lead the charge in enabling them.
  4. Technology leaders should be preparing for an entirely new business model. One way to begin is to ask your organization to find the largest user base and invest more deeply in the customer relationship, then drive decision velocity with automation, analytics and AI.
  5. Subscriptions, maintenance plans and other models are now within reach. Customer centricity is not new but is more urgent than ever in today’s disruptive conditions because it is a key to successful growth. Opportunity may be found in the gap between stakeholder expectations and what companies are delivering.
  6. Regarding cyber incidents, 95% are traced back to human error as a contributing factor, the World Economic Forum¹ has noted. With top talent scarce, make cyber hygiene everyone’s responsibility. Find representatives across business units to serve in internal security boot camps and act as resources across the organization. Use more carrot and less stick. Get everyone in the organization excited about protecting themselves better to help security hygiene.
  7. Remote work is effective for recruiting from new geographies, yet leaders crave serendipitous in-person moments. How can CIOs reconcile competing needs in talent? Be purposeful in how and when you bring people together to drive greater stickiness in your culture in this world of hybrid work.


Successful CIOs are focused on evolving their role in more strategic directions, putting new lenses on talent and culture and fortifying their defenses in a landscape of threats.

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