What’s the next iteration in the CIO’s ongoing evolution?

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The technology industry is one of constant change. Sometimes that change is positive, and sometimes it’s uncertain. In the last half year, I think it’s fair to say we’ve seen more of the latter. There has been a volatility in the industry - driven by global and domestic economic instability – which has seen a raft of delayed or cancelled contracts and resulted in 16 profit warnings being issued across the UK sector in Q1 of this year.

But, to repeat: this a sector driven by change and innovation. As it continues to evolve, so do the roles of its leaders. The Chief Information Officer (CIO) role has changed more than most in recent times. A decade ago, this was a role focused on functional support in the C-suite.

But as tech has become more central than ever to most businesses, that role has become more strategic. Today, a CIO makes high-value contributions that are baked into wider business strategies. I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently, and wondering what has spurred this shift? And what’s the next iteration in the CIO’s ongoing evolution?

The storms that change us

The author Haruki Murakami wrote in Kafka of the Shore that "when you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about." The same applies to the tech industry. With lay-offs and profit warnings proliferating right now, it’s clear that the sector is going through a storm. But we will come through it, and when we do, we will have changed for the better.

The CIO’s role is a great example of this. Traditionally, CIOs were labelled as ‘tech bods’, with the primary responsibility of overseeing an enterprise’s IT infrastructure and operations. A few years and multiple digital revolutions later and here we are: technology underpins almost every organization and the CIO sits at the heart of driving business success.

Understanding enterprise technology is still key to the role, but now there are strategic elements to consider, such as making budget allocation calls on projects as well as product and service procurement. This change came about as a direct consequence of technological advancement. The pandemic is the most recent inflection point in that curve, with McKinsey reporting that digital transformation leapfrogged several years of progress in a matter months during 2020.

Ryan Worobel,

Chief Information Officer, LogicMonitor.

Showing our value

So, the CIO has grown in strategic importance. But there is, as ever, a need to communicate the ongoing ROI of their contributions to the rest of the C-suite. It’s the only way to secure the necessary budget for digital transformation projects, and especially so during difficult economic markets. 

As we’ve seen from those lay-offs and profit warnings, spending is currently under more scrutiny, and CIOs need to be able to show the value we are delivering through our investments, such as new cybersecurity products and services. 

Cybersecurity remains a priority for many companies because a lack of it represents a huge financial and reputational risk. This is an area in which CIOs can really demonstrate the power of technology to reduce risk and empower secure innovation.

The self-healing enterprise

Cybersecurity is, at its core, about maintaining the health of the business. Perhaps that’s why the concept of the ‘Digital Immune System’ ranks as one of Gartner’s top strategic trends for 2023.

They found that 76% of digital product teams are also responsible for revenue generation, and CIOs are searching for new approaches their teams can adopt to deliver better business value while mitigating risk – a pursuit which digital immunity can offer.

It’s an approach that blends data-driven operations with automated incident resolutions and software engineering across the application supply chain, increasing the stability and resilience of systems. By Gartner’s estimation, introducing these capabilities could reduce system downtime by up to 80%, which will translate directly to higher revenue.

Still, incidents do happen, which is why CIOs need to think beyond digital immunity to progress towards a self-healing enterprise. This involves building systems that can detect and address issues before they come to pass, leveraging next-gen hybrid monitoring and other AI-based technologies.

CIO and AIO working together

CIOs right now should be looking into harnessing the power of AIO, or AIOps. These are platforms that apply machine learning and data science to resolve IT operations issues. By combining big data and ML functionality, they can enhance all primary IT functions, including identifying, troubleshooting, and resolving availability and performance issues. The power of AIOps is its ability to process and analyze massive quantities of data generated by IT functions, and deliver it back in the form of practical, actionable insights.

As CIOs look to come through this latest storm, I think we can expect to see greater investment in intelligent monitoring platforms, those which can cut through the data noise to deliver insights that maximize performance and minimize downtime. Murakami was right: the storms we go through change us. But perhaps we can work together to shape the nature of that change.

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Ryan Worobel, Chief Information Officer, LogicMonitor.