The role of a Chief Intelligence Officer (CIO) is changing at a rate like never before. Not only are technologies and infrastructures moving rapidly but the needs of a business change at an exhausting rate, and let’s not forget the expectations of users, which grow daily. What challenges are CIO's facing today?
Security versus agility
Balancing security against business functionality is probably one of the trickiest acts to get right. IT teams have continuing demands from the business to be agile and “turn on a sixpence”. However, it’s crucial to ensure that security levels are tight. You only need to take a look at the multitude of high profile cyber-attacks of late. Then add into the mix increased governance and data protection laws. Take, for example, GDPR; something that is being discussed widely as the 2018 deadline looms. Where does the balance lie between what is practical for a business to function as a successful company, whilst ensuring data is secure and protected appropriately?
The fear of the cloud
Generally speaking, there has been a reticence amongst many CIO's to make the move to cloud? Why? Well, firstly I will refer you back to that hoary old chestnut “security”, leading to a lack of confidence to put all ones’ eggs into one basket. However, IT landscapes aren’t purely populated with on-premise solutions nowadays. CIO's are now tentatively moving to the cloud and, as a result, there are an increasing number of hybrid models coming to the fore.
Strategy not apathy
The term “digital transformation” has been so overused that I can barely bring myself to type those words. Nevertheless there’s a reason for its continued use – businesses have to think about their digital strategy because this isn’t a flash in the pan. According to Gartner, in the next five years, CIO's expect their companies’ digital revenues to grow from 16% to 37%. Within the Public-sector, CIO's predict that 77% of their processes will be digitized, up from 42% today.
Note that I used the term “strategy”. It is vital for CIO’s to be tactically planning this, not following like a lemming, taking the lead from some other part of the business. Strategy should be driven by the leadership team and ensure that everyone is pulling in the same direction, therefore it’s crucial that CIO’s find their place amidst the leadership team. Conversely, business leaders need to welcome then into this inner sanctum. Where the business and IT have successfully collaborated, I’ve seen some truly innovative projects take flight.
Money, money, money
Budgets are always a gripe. They always have been and always will be. That’s why building solid business cases is key. Let’s be honest, if you can prove that you can increase the bottom line then there will always be budget.
Sometimes it can work well, where CIO’s choose small “quick-win” projects over mammoth 2 year monsters. This encourages growth in confidence from the business, so when the bigger “monster” projects are presented there is less reticence around the “risk” factor.
Retuning once again to the subject of the cloud, some of the largest savings to be experienced today are where IT teams look to cloud based solutions.
Users – they want it all, and they want it now
There’s no doubt about it - end users are getting more demanding, but why shouldn’t they be? Everyone has at least one mobile device which can tell them everything from their average spend per month on their grocery shopping to where they should go on holiday next. So, when they ask the IT team for a report to show them how many “whatsits” they sold on average over the past three years that had “thingamabob heads” on, are they being that unrealistic to expect to get that report in a few hours, not a few months?
The chances are, if you don’t start meeting the business users’ needs, Shadow IT will proliferate within an organisation. CIO’s have differing perspectives when it comes to Shadow IT: some embrace it and some shun it. Those who go with the former see the benefits of IT tools which allow users to do their jobs more effectively and therefore have a better focus on their business roles. However, many shun ‘Shadow IT’ on account of its ability to compromise the business, particularly in terms of security.
The role of a CIO is not an easy one, but it’s not all doom and gloom. Once upon a time CIO's were locked away in a dungeon of huge mainframes. Now there is the chance for them to become the true Heroes and Heroines of a business, spear-heading innovation and accelerating commercial growth. The question is – do you want to be a leader or a lemming?