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What will ‘The CIO of the Future’ look like?

How the future CIO will traverse the domains of cost-management, transform and innovate, and social or community involvement

Shailendra Singh
Shailendra Singh
By Shailendra Singh, Wipro’s Business Director: Africa Region.

The role of the CIO is rapidly transforming; and it’s clear that the CIO’s role in the future will look very different from what we have traditionally seen. The proliferation of key technologies such as Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud have already started shifting the perception of Information Technology (IT) as a Cost Centre, to a far more embedded and strategic role-player within the core business. The pace of this change will continue, as the CIO’s office becomes entirely re-imagined over the coming years.

Traditionally, the CIO spent time in building Data Centres and networks or managing an army of computer terminals. His role was to provide operational support, ensure stability, and find the odd efficiency where possible. He wouldn’t have been seen at the boardroom table driving organisational strategy, though have been exceptions in some cases.

Today, we’re increasingly seeing CIOs integrated into the key strategic functions of the business, as technology plays an ever greater role in the organisation’s future. The conversation is shifting to the language of business rather than the language of technology, and adding value across the enterprise. CIO titles and functions are being remodelled all over the world: Head of Business Transformation, Head of Change Management, Head of Service Delivery, Chief Digital Officer, Chief Technology Officer… the list goes on.

What is clear in all these definitions is that just managing the pipes through which the organisation’s data flows, will no longer be good enough. To ensure the organisation will adapt in a changing world, the future CIO needs to be firmly involved in the ‘content’ of that information – transforming it into useful knowledge that the organisation benefits from. We see the role of the CIO traversing three broad spheres – cost-management, transform and innovate, and social or community involvement.


By leveraging hybrid IT models (where some aspects of the organisation’s IT estate is outsourced), as well as trends like Cloud Computing and Unified Communications, the CIO can reduce the need for big-ticket capex items while maximising value from IT spend.

This allows him to more easily transform the IT department from a cost centre, to a series of clearly-defined, revenue-generating business plans – which are far more easily sold into the organisation. The right kind of outsourced IT services vendor will design Business Level Agreements (BLAs) that ensure commitment to business improvement, and not just technology delivery.

Almost like a venture capitalist and his portfolio of businesses, CIOs ultimately manage a technology portfolio in a way that drives enterprise value. He evaluates performance across dimensions that the CEO appreciates – such as revenue, risk, time-to-market, cost, etc.

Transform and innovate

By shifting the daily run activities onto the shoulders of external partners, the CIO has the head space to add more strategic value to the organisation. He has the time to collaborate with CXOs from all the different business units and apply innovations to each area.

In fact, many facets of the CIO’s role are given the proper attention required to flourish – from talent retention and development within the IT team, to leveraging the power of Big Data, to developing skillsets in key areas like corporate finance, project management, law, security and compliance.

Now, discharged of his day-to-day routine activities, the CIO starts applying these new streams of knowledge to play a central role in new ‘customer-facing’ product or service innovations, as well as back-office process innovations across the entire enterprise.

Social and community involvement

Because of his in-depth knowledge of technology, the CIO holds the key to truly transforming the communities within which the organisation operates. For example, by applying CSI spend to initiatives in areas like eLearning, connectivity, and eHealth, the organisation can make a far more meaningful difference in the lives of those around them.

South Africa’s Communications Minister has repeatedly called for the private sector to get involved in government’s ‘South Africa Connect’ broadband policy – asking for an energised approach to public-private partnerships at all levels of government. The CIO is best-placed to find those opportunities and ensure a positive impact on the company’s ‘triple bottom line’.

Most importantly, the CIO can play a more business-focused role, by effectively working with external ICT services providers. He would have found ways of means to achieve cost efficiencies without compromising on quality, transform and innovate in a way that makes Business sense.

Les médias du groupe Finyear

Mercredi 12 Novembre 2014