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The CIO as mini-CEO

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CIO as mini-CEO guest by Jessie RuddNot so long ago, IT used to be the domain of an elite few nerdy types. Technology was an incomprehensible language to the uninitiated. No more. When last did you do something as mundane as book a flight by phoning the airline or using a travel agency? When last did you stand in a queue at an actual bank? When last did you go to a research library for information? Look around you – a staggering number of services are completely digital with only the limits of imagination standing in the way of others.

The landscape of business has never been as irrevocably altered as it has been in the last decade. Digital technologies have completely altered the way business across all industries, do business. The continued advances in social media, the cloud, data analytics and mobile have fundamentally changed the ways in which the man on the street interacts with companies.

These rapid advances have left many corporates scrambling in the mud, being forced to completely rethink the way their entire business model operates. In the midst of this technological explosion, it is natural for business to look to IT to lead the way. Gone are the days of only providing basic IT services, back office support and operations and industry specific solutions.

Enter the New CIO.

With the staggering speed of change that has become the norm in this ‘always on’ world we now live in, a new kind of CIO and IT has been forged.

Companies are being forced to, regardless of industry, embrace customer service – or ‘serving the customer’. And that means making the right technology choices in order to pursue that goal. CEO’s, in true adapt or die fashion, are having to alter their singular business model and harness the technology, IT revolution and people to create, and maintain, the most efficient engine to achieve those goals.

This new form of CIO has to have a strategic vision of how technology can and will transform the business. And they will now have the power to implement it. They are relentless and forward thinking innovators completely focused on driving growth. Using the relationships they have forged to ensure beyond doubt that their vision is understood. They will have to move beyond operations and infrastructure and be enabled, and willing, to take risks.

Does that sound like anyone you know?

CIO’s are being forced to, in essence, become mini CEO’s.

Taking responsibility for the profits and losses, being less risk averse, anticipating businesses needs before business does, and understanding and being passionate about their vision? These traits, which are so necessary for a forward thinking and successful CEO, are now being embraced by CIO’s forced to forge a new path through this technological watershed.

In days past, IT and technology were a foreign language to most. However, with a generation that has grown up with technology quite literally in the palm of its hands, it is no longer possible to hide behind the gobbledygook and complexity and trade secrets. When everyman on the street can create an app that turns him into an instant millionaire, technology has now become a weapon against the competition. Understanding, and leveraging, that fundamental fact is one of the biggest advantages any CIO has. His department must be accountable, flexible, savvy, forward thinking, aggressive. He is the CEO of his domain.

And the sooner business realizes that, the better for business.

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