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The rise and rise of the CIO

2 min read

Over the last 10 years of recruitment for C-suite executives, I have noticed significant changes in the role of the CIO. Tech industries over this period have grown and now dominate the modern business landscape.

The role of CIO (& CTO) has moved from a mysterious geek to a role at the heart of the modern business leadership team with a prominent position at the executive table. Often the CIO / CTO is combined to a Chief Information & Technology Officer.

In the past the role of a CIO was largely internal; focusing on keeping IT infrastructure running and day to day running of internal systems from physical computers and mobile devices to internal software. Many businesses did not even have the role of CIO / CTO; a GM or Head of IT would run this division.

Currently, the role of the CIO is one of an innovative leader, CIO’s are expected to have a deep knowledge of business and organisational leadership as well as emerging and disruptive technologies. CIO’s are a key part of business strategy, where technology has the power to transform processes, departments, and actually entire businesses.

Companies are recruiting for strategic agility and prioritising innovation more than IT knowledge and ability, reflecting the more outward-looking role of the modern CIO / CTO.

A recent study by Cloud firm IO Corp speaking to one hundred CIO’s found that 78% thought the key aspect of their role was business innovation with only 10% saying that strong core IT knowledge was a key factor. The CIO has moved from someone who provided services to a company to someone who is strategically driving the company forward.

98% of the same group of respondents agreed that the role of CIO “has changed from managing IT to becoming an innovation partner”.

This is predominantly down to the changes we’ve seen in the way business operates in the digital era. Digital and technological advancement within business including automation and AI, has resulted in business becoming far more agile using data to improve and speed-up processes and marketing allowing us to target customers and deliver to customers faster.

Currently modern businesses don’t just have internal software and devices, they have websites, apps on smartphones and large social media operations. Social media and digital is an excellent vehicle for marketing; after all, Gen Z were born into a connected world. Social media particularly is a constantly changing force that is dominating our devices globally. No single technological advancement has changed our daily lives and culture so quickly and dramatically.

The challenge for all business is innovation and staying on top of tech trends.

This is reflected in the rapid rise of CIO salaries which, according to research, have risen by a staggering 40% in the past five years. This, more than any other statistic, shows that businesses value the role tech plays more highly than ever, and the importance of recruiting the right candidates into the Chief Information and Technology role.


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