As technology evolves, so too must the CIO

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Technology is changing how we live and work at a rapid pace. New developments such as blockchain, Artificial Intelligence and machine learning could yet further alter the world we live in. 

At Barclaycard, we recently undertook research to find out whether these emerging technologies were already influencing how business is conducted, or if they’re simply hype. 

We also explored the changing role of the Chief Information Officer (CIO), and the growth of diversity in the field of technology.

Believe the hype

Research & Development requires investment and 42% of CIOs say their companies are scaling up spend to leverage emerging technologies. The Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality top the list of technologies CIOs plan to use in the next five years. In fact, almost six in ten (56 per cent) CIOs in UK businesses believe they will be ready to implement the Internet of Things within five years and 30 per cent are already either piloting or using this technology today. 

At Barclaycard, we’ve been exploring the use of blockchain in various pilot projects, including as a way of verifying identity, and we’re not alone. A third (35 per cent) of CIOs tell us they have adopted or are piloting blockchain to provide greater transparency and increased security for data. One in five (20 per cent) are at the stage of testing or using quantum computing. This suggests that for UK CIOs, these technologies aren’t hype. In fact, it shows we’re already at the point where next-generation tools are becoming a reality for businesses.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Image Credit: Shutterstock (Image credit: Shutterstock)

CIO 2.0

We also explored how the role of the CIO is changing, with a dive into how this is impacting the search for the right talent and skills. More than three-quarters (78 per cent) of those surveyed say today's CIOs need a broader skill set than they did five years ago to meet wider business goals, such as driving growth or being more accountable for improving customer experience. This trend has led to 53 per cent of CIOs becoming more aligned with other teams across the business than they were five years ago. A third (35 per cent) report now working in closer collaboration with their CEO.

CIOs are also becoming increasingly involved with payments with four in ten (42 per cent) saying this is a greater focus for them, and the majority (73 per cent) indicating that payments technology has become a more prominent part of boardroom discussions. It’s not just processing payments though, as 70 per cent of CIOs also report wanting better access to payments data in order to help them meet business objectives and improve their organisation’s decision making.  

Embracing greater diversity

As part of the research, we looked at the make-up of technology teams in the UK. Recruiting a diverse workforce isn’t just the right thing to do.  Where the need for new skills grows and the search for talent intensifies, it is vital that businesses are accessing the richest possible range of skills and experience and drawing on less traditional tech backgrounds. 

It’s clear this is already happening, with almost two-thirds (64 per cent) of CIOs saying that their team members are from a more diverse range of backgrounds than they were five years ago, including the range of nationalities, ages, educational qualifications and socioeconomic backgrounds. Additionally, seven in ten CIOs (70 per cent) believe there to be more women on their team today than there were five years ago. 

Diversity provides benefits right the way through an organisation, yet technology has traditionally been a difficult field in which to encourage greater representation. That’s why these findings are particularly pleasing, and hopefully we will see even more of a focus on people from diverse backgrounds working in technology in future.

The challenge is keeping up

The development of new and exciting technologies means the world around us is changing. It’s often said that we’re currently living through the Fourth Industrial Revolution with AI, machine learning and robotics transforming the way we live and work. 

Today’s CIO needs to keep abreast of these changes, helping their organisations to invest in the right tech. But they must also maintain their own skill set, and recruit diverse talent into their teams, ensuring they future-proof themselves alongside the business.

Keith Little, Chief Information Officer at Barclaycard 

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Keith Little

Keith Little is Chief Information Officer at Barclaycard.

He has extensive experience of technology leadership & technology enabled change at board level across a wide range of industries, from startups to multi-national organisations and across sectors as diverse as oil, gambling, telco, advertising, financial services and media with a focus always on delivering business outcomes. His specialities are: Leadership, Programme & project management, IT strategy development, Software engineering, Enterprise architecture, Service management and delivery, Financial & commercial management, Strategic sourcing, procurement and negotiation