If you’d asked someone ten years ago which executive is the key company decision maker, they’d have probably said the CEO, CTO, or CFO. Few would have thought of the chief information officer (CIO), or even had a clear idea of what one does. Not so today. Digitization is placing CIOs at the vanguard of enterprise strategy, with all the accompanying responsibility and pressures.
Huawei rotating CEO Eric Xu believes we need to redefine the role of CIOs. “I” no longer covers “information” alone – the wave of digital transformation sweeping the globe has brought "innovation" and "interconnection" into the fold. As the main promoters, planners, and drivers of transforming operations and business models, CIOs must be innovators. They must also serve as interconnectors, forming the bridge that links customers, partners, and company employees. Moreover, they must be the leaders of IT architecture cloudification, which is today’s definition of “information” in the CIO context.
Digital transformation takes the CIO's role beyond managing internal IT applications. They need foresight and business acumen; they need to fully understand what transformation really means; and they need to understand the tech and how it will change their enterprise.
Otherwise, CIOs won’t be able to pin down the Internet model that can sell their company's products and services, develop robust and agile IT strategies that are good for at least five years, or persuade other C-suite execs and senior managers to jump aboard the digital transformation train.
To transform, CIOs must Integrate new IT architecture, develop flexible IT service models, and establish E2E management processes and methods. Externally, they need head up teams dedicated to forging strong partnerships with service providers.
We know that enterprises cannot go digital all in one go and we know that CIOs cannot go it alone. They’ll need to work closely with CTOs and put together smooth, user-centric processes. In the future, we might see the CIO and CTO roles replaced by a CTIO (chief technology innovation officer) to drive enterprise development.
But today the burning question is: CIOs, are you ready?