A new global research study from Lenovo reveals how the CIO role has evolved, shedding light on growing areas of responsibility and increasing influence in the C-Suite, as well as removing barriers to business growth.
Today, technology is the nervous system that connects corporate strategy, finance, innovation, operations, and talent. CIOs are increasingly tasked with connecting with key stakeholders across the organization to ensure alignment and drive execution. With IT enmeshed in every facet of a business, CIOs believe that their organizations must continue to invest in digital transformation to remain relevant. The report surveyed more than 500 CIOs.
How the CIO role has evolved
Nearly all CIOs surveyed believe their roles have evolved and expanded in the past few years, and that they are being asked to make business decisions that go far beyond technology.
- 9-in-10 CIOs say that their roles and responsibilities have expanded beyond technology, including non-traditional areas such as data analytics and business reporting (56%), sustainability/ESG (45%), DE&I (42%), HR/talent acquisition (39%), and sales/marketing (32%).
- 82% say the CIO role has become more challenging compared with just two years ago as they are confronting a vast array of unique challenges, from the increasing use of AI and automation to talent acquisition in a global, remote workforce.
- CIOs find it most difficult to solve challenges related to data privacy/security (66%), cybersecurity/ransomware (66%), keeping up with technological change (65%), managing fragmented IT vendor ecosystems (61%) and adopting/deploying new technology (60%).
The majority of CIOs believe their role in the organization has increased in influence.
- More than 3-in-4 CIOs say they have a greater impact on their company’s overall fortunes than other C-Suite positions.
- 88% agree that “my role as CIO is the most critical component of my company or organization’s continued operation.”
As the CIO role expands and evolves, respondents say that their technology vendors play an invaluable role in their company’s overall success.
- Business would feel an impact in no more than a few weeks if they halted spending on digital transformation initiatives, according to 61% of respondents. This speaks to technology’s role as a critical component of the business, not just a source of cost efficiencies.
- Looking ahead, CIOs expect to turn to their vendors to help them solve myriad problems in the next five years, including increasing their organizational agility (60%) and providing security of their company’s systems and operations (52%), as well as to simplify the configuration, deployment and maintenance of technology (50%), and optimize costs (43%).
- 8-in-10 CIOs agree their tech vendors are “so effectively integrated that it increases [their] overall productivity.”
Considering their new challenges and evolving responsibilities, CIOs suggest their current tech stack has much room for improvement.
- Given the chance to reboot from scratch, most CIOs (57%) say they would replace half or more of their company’s current technology.
- Compared to the previous year, 63% of companies are using more Device-as-a-Service in their tech stack.
- As business models change, nearly all CIOs (92%) would definitely or probably consider adding new aaS offerings over the next two years.
An uphill battle for CIOs
“Modern CIOs are the ‘mission control’ for their organizations; their role has transformed drastically in just the span of the past 24 months,” said Ken Wong, President, Lenovo Solutions and Services Group.
“From navigating complex tech ecosystems to keep up with the speed of digital transformation, to upskilling employees and managing a global shortage of IT talent, today’s CIO is responsible for the entire technology value chain and beyond. Lenovo’s research demonstrates CIOs are up for the challenge. And they are looking to partner with their vendors to bring their organizations along and succeed.”
Research firm International Data Corp. estimates that by 2023, 60% of CIOs at companies world-wide will be primarily measured for their ability to cocreate new business models and revenue streams, chiefly through enterprise-wide collaboration. Yet Lenovo’s research shows that it may be an uphill battle for CIOs, who have identified areas such as data privacy/security, cybersecurity/ransomware and managing a fragmented IT vendor ecosystem as their most challenging concerns.
“In this complex technological environment, CIOs want to innovate, not manage IT. As Lenovo’s research highlights, CIOs look to their technology vendors beyond just delivering the basics well – namely, increase organizational agility, simplify configuration, and optimize costs. IT leaders also need counsel and guidance on how emerging technology can enhance their business goals. The opportunities for technology to add real business value – right across the enterprise – are immense,” added Mr. Wong.