The evolving role of the CIO

  • They must understand threats and opportunities presented by disruptive technologies
  • How they embrace and harness new, disruptive technologies will determine success

The evolving role of the CIODIGITAL technologies are continuing to create digital disruption in the enterprise, resulting in new markets or the re-shaping of existing ones.
When it comes to technology, CEOs (chief executive officers) require a partner who can combine technology expertise with equal business skills to successfully navigate the changing landscape.
In 2006, Amazon unknowingly tapped into a concept that would turn into the phenomenon known as cloud computing. The adoption of new technologies drove Amazon well ahead of their competitors, whose presence today is significantly less.
If the future were based on the past, indicatively, in 2020 enterprises as we know it will either need to evolve or become a non-player in the local market. This new digital-first world will force an overhaul of strategy, processes, products and relationships.
The new CIOs (chief information officers) will need to break out of operations mode and adapt to the changing digital landscape – that is, on in which they play a pivotal role in ensuring that the company is successful whilst driving the use of new technologies.
Responding to change
The evolving role of the CIOCIOs must be able to understand the threats and opportunities presented by disruptive technologies in order to provide operational stability and information security.
With 2015 seeing Singapore shift towards a digitised ‘Smart Nation,’ with a 33% cloud adoption in 2015 forecasted (PDF), industries such as government, commerce, health and others will witness the information landscape move away from traditional paper trails onto a digital platform.
As a result of digital adoption, there will be a significant increase in information within enterprises. This means a CIO today needs to manage on-premises systems and infrastructure, with the additional responsibility to manage cloud-based systems.
Also, they need to deal with structured data coming from sources such as spreadsheets and databases, alongside unstructured data being generated from channels like email and social media.
Ultimately, it translates into dealing with the consumer-grade offerings often favoured by users, while maintaining enterprise-grade security required by customers, regulators and shareholders.
Fundamentally, the priority for the end-user is simplicity and ease-of-use. However, mismanaged information across an organisation can cost the enterprise significantly, accumulating to millions of dollars in costs associated with litigation and compliance.
With the digital shift, CIOs face complexities in the form of accumulated systems as well as legacy technology and homegrown applications which slow down innovation. They are responsible and accountable for the massive volumes of enterprise information and the systems that house data.
This responsibility comes with challenges of data governance, information security and authorised access.
As such, CIOs today are responsible for keeping information processes simple yet secure and compliant – and at the same time seeking a way to unlock the unrealised business potential that IT possesses and maintain a holistic approach to their IT infrastructure.
Digital governance
In a digital-first world, information is quickly becoming the new currency and will become a primary driver of transformation and performance. It is no surprise, as the white paper by IDG Unleashing the Power of Information (PDF) highlights, an Enterprise Information Management strategy should be a top priority for CIOs and IT business executives.
CIOs need to be responsible for implementing and executing the most effective digital governance frameworks across the entire business to ensure that information is secure and managed correctly.
This need for improved governance of information will be necessary in 2020, as the Internet of Things (IoT) will introduce a wave of new information into the enterprise. The increased volume of data will require CIOs to prepare for the data influx ahead of its arrival.
The way CIOs embrace and harness new and disruptive technologies will determine the success of an organisation.
The main obstacle CIOs struggle with is knowing where to start. Digital technologies stretch across every facet of a business, and apart from dealing with different business aspects, organisations are inundated with information which they must address.
It is becoming even more crucial that people within the business have quick and secure access to the information available, whenever it is needed.
To address this, CIOs must combine information management platforms with digital governance frameworks to secure the flow of information throughout the business, thereby providing a platform for digital transformation.
The next wave of transformation

The evolving role of the CIO

Realistically, the role of the CIO has changed and will continue to evolve. Singapore has begun the adoption of digitisation and is growing at an unprecedented rate.
According to the report Digital Planet: Readying for the rise of the e-consumer, Singapore is a standout nation, equipped with cutting-edge infrastructure that allows for a highly evolved digital ecosystem.
With Singapore evolving into a digital nation, innovation and market expansion has paved a platform to consistently push the frontiers and maintain its position at the front of digital readiness.
The pace is unlikely to slow down anytime soon, with the next 10 years shaping up to be just as disruptive as the last. Therefore, the evolved CIO must be ready and able to completely embrace the next round of disruptive IT.
Leveraging the capabilities of technologies to deliver business benefits will become the key differentiator for enterprises looking to get ahead.
This is where the evolved CIO has an opportunity to lead the way. CIOs who adopt this approach will be able to create successful IT infrastructures that improve the quality of products and services provided, whilst simultaneously driving efficiencies and cost reductions.
Mao Gen Foo is vice president, Asia, at enterprise information management solutions provider OpenText.
Related Stories:                                                  
Megatrends fast changing the role of CIOs: Forrester
Effective CIOs naturally align business to IT: Panel
Time for CIOs to transform for IoE: Cisco
CIOs: We’re being held back by other C-levels
‘Thick data’ and how CIOs can become Code Halo heroes
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