A snapshot glance at today’s midmarket CIO shows more than half of these executives have served in a CIO or CIO-equivalent role for more than 10 years.
Digital transformation may be an elusive goal for the midmarket IT leader, under pressure to reduce spend yet drive business innovation and protect their companies from firewall breaches and network attacks.
But the next generation CIO may not look so starkly different from senior counterparts counting down the years until retirement.
“The next generation CIO shares as much in common with the business as they do with IT,” said Dave Widener, Dir. of IT at Dead River Company.
Given the non-negotiable requirement for IT to deliver value more predictably, while building agile systems for the ever-changing business landscape, Widener suggested the modern CIO will look more like a business-facing executive and much less like the traditional back-office, core technology focused IT leadership of the past.
With Cisco estimating 50 billion connected devices globally by 2020, the Internet of Things presents both unlimited business potential and an onslaught of massive amounts of data, all of which the next generation CIO will be expected to have an answer for management and useful decision making.
IDC’s Christopher Chute, vice president of the SMB and Cloud Mobility Practice, suggests millennial CIOs are saving money for their organizations with a hybrid approach to cloud adoption. Instead of hiring more people, millennial CIOs carefully audit existing infrastructure to determine what onsite capabilities are really needed and purchase cloud services where applicable for business operations.
Within the last two decades, consumer technology has evolved at such lightening speed, so persistently in the marketplace, that CIOs in midmarket companies are challenged to affect change at the same rapid rate.
The next generation CIO will partner with their marketing counterparts to spearhead game-changing projects instead of playing catch up to the rest of the business.
The challenges of functioning as the head of IT, serving the needs of the business, will continue in the future as they have since the CIOs at the height of their careers in the late 90s managed multi-million dollar projects that delivered massive change.
Higher expectations in regards to the speed of solutions and reactions to problems that newer technologies inherently ‘assume’ will be among their biggest challenges, O’Neil said. Shaking off the role’s perceptions as a cost center and inhibitor of progress is going to be among the next generation CIO’s biggest challenges.
Widener said the CIO role is still viable and one to which driven individuals will still aspire, but only if the individual is successfully evolving to fulfill the title’s expanding role.
“Business-acumen – strategic planning, budget management and taking an active role in understanding fundamental business drivers – is no longer a nice-to-have in the marketplace, but a fundamental requirement. The CIO of the future is a business leader first and an IT leader second. Otherwise, the role will languish and more capable roles will evolve to replace this ever-critical function of the business.”