CIO Report

A January 2018 article in Forbes likened CIOs of the past to plumbers – connecting data networks through piping or taping together operational or project-driven initiatives. 

This is no longer true as organizations realize that every business is a technology business.

Here, Scott Barnyak, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer and Co-Founder of SDLC Partners, highlights four trends affecting CIOs, requiring them to stretch further as their role expands strategically, becoming increasingly market-focused.

Trend #1: New Roles Emerging – Transformation and Digital

While some IT departments are rebranding themselves as “technology” departments, even some relatively new titles are emerging in the CIO role domain. CIOs are donning titles like chief transformation officer and chief digital officer to represent the more strategic leadership role they entail.

This trend reflects the change in positioning within leadership that aligns with the growing maturity of their technology portfolios.

Scott’s Perspective: Titles are constantly changing with the times. What’s key is to ensure that there is alignment “behind the title” between company priorities and what this executive has the authority and budget to execute.

Trend #2: Setting the Digital & Business Agenda

CIOs are establishing themselves as strategic leaders rather than mostly focused on realizing the priorities of other c-suite executives.

From the Forbes [] piece, they’re “actively setting the agenda for the future of the digital enterprise.”

More often, CIOs have a role that mixes functional, strategic and transformational duties as revealed in Gartner’s [] fall 2017 report on the “CIO Agenda.” Survey results show that the top two priorities for more than 3,000 worldwide CIOs are growth/market share and digital business/digital transformation.

Scott’s Perspective: A shift to digital has required CIOs to come closer to the business and become more connected with the strategic view of purpose and priorities. The CIO is called on to link technology value back to business value. CIOs are focusing on redesigning the user experience as a priority that wasn’t there years ago. We’re seeing IT evolve from a cost-center to a revenue generator. Innovation is becoming necessary to drive opportunities for new revenue sources.

Trend #3: Cultural Change Agents

“CIOs are on the road from digital experimentation to digital scaling,” said Rowsell-Jones, Vice President and Research Director, Gartner, in their “2018 CIO Agenda Survey.” []

Boards are challenging CIOs to bridge the gap between the potential born out of pilots and scaling digital transformation throughout the organization. The Gartner survey revealed that most CIOs expect to become change agents for their organizations; much more focused on business processes and how technology capability is infused into and adopted by operations, customer service and marketing.

Scott’s Perspective: The idea of moving to an agile approach was a first step to get the business to look at how they work together. Development and go-to-market must work faster and closer than ever. We went from requirements to deliver to “how can we be more responsive and flexible?” Agile is an approach, yet the change agent needs to look many steps ahead at technologies like AI and automation. Each must be addressed and prioritized with robust change attached to them.

Trend #4: Creating an Engine that Serves Internal and External Customers

A presenter at the 2016 Gartner CIO Leadership Forum in London said, “Data is cheap, algorithms drive value.” This reflects the C-suite attitude that everything must be “intelligent,” and that internal and external customers are demanding more sophistication throughout their relationship with an organization. CIOs are charged with assessing and leading this “intelligent” transformation so that employees can be more efficient and innovative, products and services can add value that inspires loyalty and growth, and technologies can differentiate in the market.

Scott’s Perspective: Making internal match external puts a focus on the “customer.” CIOs must address how they can create value for their internal “customers” to help with efficiency and meaningful work, in addition to external customers. The shift has to evolve from “what you need to tell me” to “how can IT help?”

Moving Beyond Trends

We’ve seen these trends before, but the focus keeps evolving. Yet, the foundation of architecture and integration is still key to sustainable success. Today, we have more data sources and modes of data storage and sharing that needs knitted together to be agile, flexible and relevant.

For more than a decade, we’ve worked alongside CIOs through trend after trend to address these evolving challenges – increasing efficiency, becoming flexible to market and technology trends and freeing up staff and resources for innovation.  Learn more about SDLC Partners at