While there is widespread perception that chief information officers (CIOs) are primarily focused on emerging technologies, shifting business landscapes mean that the CIO role itself is changing. Increasingly, consumers are using technology to research and choose products in retail environments, and businesses that embrace these and other key trends are likely to outperform competitors.
Experts predict that in 2015, CIOs will face three key challenges: managing their changing roles, leveraging the strategic value of data, and increasing the application of business intelligence. While these trends signal an increase in the complexity of the CIO role, they also add tremendous value to the CIO’s position as one of the most important players in the business world.
More Than Technology
When the CIO position first emerged, its sole focus was on technology. Today, technology has become such an integral part of business operations that the traditional role of the CIO is becoming increasingly blurred. As such, CIOs now manage new operations that have emerged through the digitization of business, including these:
- Adapting existing business processes to the digital environment, including customer support, customer self-service, and the automation of operations,
- Evaluating, managing, and improving the performance of digitized processes and operations, and
- Encouraging employees to embrace and buy in to new technologies.
In other words, CIOs play a pivotal role as a business’s technological steward. They ensure that automated and digitized processes are harnessed to profitable effect while optimizing their performance and getting front-line workers on board with the changes.
The New Gold
Data is rapidly emerging as an invaluable business asset, and the job of turning raw data into actionable insight is falling on the shoulders of the CIO. In particular, data mining has two key potential applications that CIOs should expect to harness in the year ahead:
- Using data to understand not only what customers are doing, but why they’re doing it; hard numbers support trends observed across industries and demographics and can help business leaders illuminate new paths to innovation.
- Data will be used to identify and activate new sources of revenue, essentially adding the servicing of products to the inventory of product-driven business models.
Essentially, CIOs will be tasked with finding and integrating strategies for monetizing the collection of consumer data. As such, the CIO will play an increasingly prominent role in identifying and establishing new revenue channels to boost business profitability and long-term health.
The Increasing Importance of Business Intelligence
The pervasiveness of data means that businesses are dedicating more resources to analyzing it; at the same time, there’s a tacit understanding that such analysis is useful only if it leads to valuable insights. In the year ahead — and in the years to come — CIOs will be expected to guide data analysis for the purposes of business intelligence.
One of the big shifts in the business intelligence landscape is that data analysis is moving away from a report-centered model and evolving towards an app-centered model. CIOs will be responsible for managing that transition and providing executive-level decision-makers with the technological tools they need to uncover and apply valuable insights from data repositories.
All in all, it’s clear that the role of the CIO is expanding as it changes, and CIOs who are equipped to handle the upcoming challenges will have a shaping hand in the evolving business landscape of the 21st century.