Modern technology is no longer a commodity. It’s a business imperative, a crucial asset that can add value throughout the organization. As enterprise technology continues to evolve, the need to develop long-term strategies that align with business goals has become essential. As such, chief financial officers (CIOs) have become more than mere supervisors in charge of implementing and maintaining a company’s digital ecosystem. Today, they form the link between technology and business strategy.
#1. Innovation requires leadership
Unlike a chief technology officer (CTO), the CIO must garner a thorough understanding of the business problem. A degree of technical expertise is essential, but they are more involved with addressing business challenges and leading innovation throughout the organization. Although they might not understand the inner workings of technology (that’s the job of a CTO), they still have an extremely important job to do. They’re leaders of change in a world where businesses need to adapt quickly or face being usurped by more agile competitors. CIOs typically report to the CEO or, in larger organizations, hold a place on the board with other C-suite executives.
CIOs are business and technology leaders in equal measure. They drive innovation by forming relationships throughout the business and garnering a closer understanding of the challenges facing each department. To that end, they play an important role in everything from marketing to product development to customer success. They’re leaders of digital transformation, which is something that every modern business needs to succeed. CIOs help connect organizations by breaking down information silos and helping every department innovate in a way that adds value to every facet of the business.
#2. Technology alignment is a must
Traditionally, there is a disconnect between information technology and business operations. IT departments have long operated in their own environments with minimal interaction with the rest of the business. This siloed approach is a barrier to digital transformation. The role of the CIO is a combination of business strategic planning and its corresponding technology plan.
A lack of technology alignment is the most common reason behind failed digital transformation initiatives. All too often do business leaders find themselves chasing after the latest new tech simply because that’s what everyone else seems to be doing. Without alignment, they end up spending too much on technology while failing to achieve the desired outcomes. The fact that many IT departments aren’t able to adequately communicate the benefits of technology to the board is also a common problem. As relationship builders within an organization, CIOs have become instrumental in driving successful digital strategies.
#3. Information security is a top priority
Digital security and privacy issues are a growing concern among business owners. Hackers are out in force to compromise every system and process they can get their hands on, while ever-stricter compliance regulations serve to reinforce the importance of cybersecurity. Although many larger organizations also have a chief information security officer (CISO) to oversee the more technical elements of cybersecurity, CIOs also have an important role to play when it comes to protecting a company’s most important assets.
One of the most important jobs of any CIO is to ensure that mission-critical systems are running optimally at all times and are always accessible to those who need to use them. This also means they have an important role in business continuity and backup and disaster recovery planning. Unscheduled downtime can cost businesses hundreds of thousands of dollars every hour, hence the need to proactively monitor and maintain everything comprising a business’s crucial infrastructure.
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