The CIO position is fragmenting, with some technology leaders getting closer to the business, whilst others specialise further into digital disciplines.
The role is also about balancing the need to keep systems running with the need to invest in innovation.
Those are the views of IT leaders Computing has spoken to recently, to guage the state of the technology leadership role in 2017.
Mike Faiers, director of IT and eBusiness at BSH Home Appliances discussed the need to innovate, and the squeeze this potentially places on IT budgets.
"One of the biggest challenges is to demonstrate the value of the existing IT ecosystem against investing in innovations and new technology," said Faiers. "Increasingly business wants to innovate, to demonstrate they can bring to market new solutions and ideas, which all take time, focus and resource.
"To counter this traditional IT architecture, network components and user devices are being squeezed to free up capacity and resource to invest in innovation. This is not an easy balance to get right. In addition to this the delivery of the digital strategy now commonly sits within ‘IT' so there is demand for a new breed of digital natives to play an ever more important role in shaping and delivering the IT strategy," he added.
Christina Scott, CTO of News UK, explained that technology leaders today are spending more time on building digital capability.
"With the advancement of cloud technologies and the continuing importance of digital to all industries the role of the CIO continues to shift," said Scott. "Time will be spent less on focussing on underlying infrastructure and more on developing digital capabilities including product development and data. More CIOs will have these areas within their remit. Additionally an increasing fight for talent in these key areas will see CIOs focussing on their talent acquisition and management strategies."
Tom Clark, CIO of Leeds Building Society [pictured] agreed that digital capability is a focus, and said that the technology leadership role is now forking into several distinct and separate paths.
"I see [the role] splitting into CIOs who are supporting / driving the business agenda and bringing a digital and innovation view to the business, the CTO which is a deeper technical agenda, almost the super-developer, and the Head of IT which is looking after things in the run space," said Clark. "The career path for the latter two is definitely within technology whilst the career path for the CIO is to take their skills into the wider business, potentially into the COO role."
For Nick Folkes, CIO at security firm G4S, technology leadership is now about partnering with the business.
"It's not just worrying about budgets and keeping lights on, but adding value to the firm. CIOs today must partner with the business to understand how it operates, how it can be made more efficient, and do so in a way that engages and empowers each of the business leaders to grow their businesses. Maybe 10 years ago you could have produced a business strategy that didn't have major part for IT. I don't think that's possible now," said Folkes.
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