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The Changing role of the CIO

There’s been a lot of debate around the changing role of the CIO in the press, and particularly in financial services.  But we must take into consideration that, in the rapidly-evolving world of technology, you have to move with the times.  There’s simply no escaping it. 

It’s true that some CEOs haven’t necessarily caught up with the many changes resulting from today’s digital revolution. In some cases, this has presented a short window of opportunity for IT-savvy figures to take centre stage, which has in turn blurred the lines of control and responsibility for the traditional CIO. But this won’t last forever – people are catching up -  out of necessity if nothing else. 

Fundamentally, CIOs are responsible for enabling a business to achieve its goals through IT.  And in IT, more than any other sphere of business, change is almost constant. So the really savvy CIO will already be focused on tackling that change.  Here’s how I believe you can do the same...


 1.       The challenge of flexible working

Flexible working is a key priority for many businesses, but it is a misleading term. The crucial consideration is what I would call ‘location agnosticism’: IT shouldn’t get in the way of work, so wherever an employee is working the experience should always be the same - nothing should change based on their location. Unfortunately, connection problems will often impact on whether an employee is as productive at home or on the road as they are in the office. So being ahead of the curve in understanding new data streaming technologies - that are able to negotiate the volatile world of the internet without being constrained by bandwidth - should be a must for a 21st Century CIO.


 2.       Addressing BYOD

BYOD occurs for a number of reasons... Two of the most significant relate to ease of use in terms of a) Overly restrictive regulations in the work environment and b) work devices not providing the same experience as devices used at home. In both scenarios employees often find ways round this to ensure their experience fits their needs, and so the role of the CIO becomes more complex.

CIO’s often appear not to be moving quickly enough to match the employee’s work experience to  their individual requirements, thus causing them to resort to using home devices and circumventing restrictive “draconian” rules.

Often lost in the BYOD debate are factors such as where the data is stored, how it is accessed and how it is used. If the CIO is able to utilise a real time data distribution product like Diffusion™ then it is possible to virtualise the experience, and enable employees to view the data most applicable to them securely and in real time - regardless of their device or location - thus removing the issue of storing data physically on their devices.

So going forward, rather than battling people using their own devices, the CIO can focus resources on providing employees with the best tools possible for their roles. This will ultimately change the “CIO-as-controller” perception, which typically pushes people to use the solutions which they individually think are best.


 3.       Understanding social media

Effective 21st Century CIO’s need to be fully in tune with the non-business world, to ensure that what is happening digitally ‘outside’ is reflected appropriately in work life. It is possible for social media to make people’s lives easier both personally and professionally. Obviously there is a risk that using social media platforms at work could lead to distractions for employees, but it can also be used for quick and easy colleague interaction.

When it comes to social media, companies need to provide training on how to use them in a professional manner and encourage use of a business-focused social network. Fundamentally, it’s not about control, but providing the education and software that allows people to use social media in a business-friendly way.

Social media platforms, where combined with data streaming and technologies which support real-time distribution of data, can liberate organisations and employees to work effectively.

Ultimately, CIO’s that understand this, and embrace all that technology can offer them in the delivery of their company goals, will easily ensure that any change to their role is in fact one that is driven by them!


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