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Digital disruption is changing business roles

The impact of digital disruption on business processes is well understood. But changing technology is also changing the role of the IT department and technology leaders.

By John Oates

The chief information officer used to be in charge of infrastructure. The job demanded stability of systems and the key performance indicators for success were availability, up-time and value for money.

But in the world of shadow IT, where business units are procuring and running their own infrastructure, creates demand for a different set of skills from the CIO.

As the speed of technology evolution continues to accelerate and the adoption of cloud services increases, the CIO actually has less of a technical role.

The job of CIO is no longer reserved for candidates with a technical background. There are many examples of business leaders moving into the role on the basis of their other skills. People have shifted from marketing or from sales to run IT departments

There are two aspects to this.

Any business transformation project is likely to involve dealing with technology. Creating a new business service or application requires skills which were once the exclusive domain of the IT department.

So successful business unit leaders are being promoted to run the IT department because their skills and vision are relevant. You cannot run a successful business unit, much less transform it, without some understanding of technology.

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Secondly the technology is now moving so quickly and new platforms being adapted so fast that technical skills don’t stay relevant for long.

You need to understand not what technology can do but what it could do for the organisation.

Successful CIOs need better interpersonal skills, stronger project management and the skills to implement digital transformation through out the company and its partners.

Today’s CIO must take a strategic view of the whole businesses, its processes and its supply chain. He or she must understand the competition like never before.

They’re expected not to maintain infrastructure but offer a vision for the future of the business.

They need a deep understanding of the resources of the business and how they could be better exploited.

They need to create a flexible and agile development environment which can spread to the whole organisation.

While it is possible to say that today’s CIO is less reliant on their understanding of technology it might be more accurate to say that every business leader needs a better understanding of technology and what it means for the future strategy of their organisation.

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