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The Digital Disruption of the CIO

December 15, 2015

Are you seeing a shift in the role of the CIO within your organization? While title, role, and responsibility may be a consistent evolution, what about CIOs partnership within the business? The overall role of the CIO faces not only unprecedented change, but also a responsibility to be the “game-changer” and lead the organization ahead of competition. Remaining agile, while keeping up with trends in the industry, is vital to the role of the CIO. How the role is shifting and the keys to leveraging a business-led partnership are touched on in this blog originally posted on Think IT.

Originally posted on Think IT

There are a lot of phenomenal changes in the tech industry, and we are faced with an unprecedented rate of change.  Technology disruptions, digital strategies, driven innovation, aggressive competition, and tech savvy business partners were a few examples of drivers of change that were shared by Paul Haisman, Vice President of IT at YMCA of the USA as he brought to life the topic of The Digital Disruption of the CIO at our IT Leadership meeting. As the responsibilities to help lead digital transformation efforts and relationships across the organization continue, the role and title of CIO is being challenged and changing. Senior technology leaders are faced with the uncertainty of the question, “Will you become irrelevant in your job today because of these changes?”

“Change Before You Have To”

It is predicted that the traditional job description of the CIO will become irrelevant. Illustrated by Haisman, the path of IT transformation is highlighted on this graph and compared to the focus on having strong business skills throughout the years of change.


Emerging areas of responsibility and technologies now require true sponsorship at the C-level. The title and responsibilities of the CIO are often merging with or transforming into Chief Marketing Officer, Chief Data Officer, Chief Analytics Officer, Chief Digital Officer, or Chief Technology Officer, just to name a few, all of which will require a business-led IT partnership.

“Clicks Outpace Bricks”

Gartner forecasts 6.4 billion connected devices will be used worldwide in 2016, and will reach 20.8 billion by 2020 (Gartner). This year we have seen clicks from online shopping defeat brick and mortar shopping thanks in part to Cyber Monday and other online deals. Technology is easily accessible at the fingertips of consumers.  What can CIOs do to prepare and respond accordingly to the digital transformation? According to Peter Diamandis, “We all have to relearn how to leverage technology to disrupt our own businesses, before a new competitor disrupts it and puts us out of business” (Cisco Live 2015). A few great examples of technology disruptors that Paul mentioned were that of FedEx and Wells Fargo which shows every single disruptor competitor of their entire business functions.

Generating a “Business-Led” IT Partnership

The group discussed that the CIO role is changing and needs to be more business savvy. Bill Franz, IT Director at Energy BBDO, expressed the challenge in the industry of trying to get entire organizations to look and grow with technology in order to provide agility and infrastructure. The transformation is upon us and CIOs will need to build a digital, business-led IT partnership driven by:

  • Creating value at new frontiers
  • Creating value in core businesses
  • Building foundational capabilities

The key feedback from the group was that the main responsibility of IT leaders is to think beyond black and white and to also be a value-add to the business. The IT department should no longer strive to just get a seat at the table; but to be a part of the solution for their organizations. As a result, CIOs and senior technology leaders must understand how they can disrupt traditional thinking before it becomes too late.

What can CIOs do to prepare and respond accordingly to the shift in the role? Is your IT department ready?

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Posted By: Anastasia Hoosman


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