The changing role of the CIO and boardroom in 2017

C-suite attitudes, while far from archaic, have perhaps been focused too heavily on how to reach customers.

As 2017 approaches a shift should be occurring in boardroom priorities. Of course its job is to drive profits, but this must be done in a secure way. Security is the name of the game.

2016 has seen an ever-increasing – daily – number of cyber security breaches. The fact that they are so well publicised with today’s 24 hour news coverage via social media and other news channels means that companies cannot hide.

This exposure will almost certainly lead to an exodus of once loyal customers, as seen by the 100,000 customers who left TalkTalk following the revelation of its data breach.

>See also: The Trojan horse: 2017 cyber security trends

So, as it turns out, investing in effective and resilient cyber security solutions will in fact aid the boardroom’s top priority of reaching customers, by helping maintain their loyalty.

On top of the consumer exodus, post-GDPR from May 2018, organisations will face huge fines (€20 million or 4% of global annual turnover). These fines are meant to hurt and reducing the risk should make security a top priority in 2017: the preparatory year.

Mike Garland, recently appointed strategic partner at C5 Capital, the specialist investors in cyber security, data analytics and cloud computing, discussed the shifting boardroom landscape with Information Age.

“Cyber security has become a more and more prominent issue. It was something that everybody was aware of but it has struggled to get into the boardroom. Over the last 24, 36 months that has changed quite dramatically. Now from the top of FTSE 100 down to everybody else they have to address this in a much more proactive way.”

“The c-suite agenda was very much around the go-to-market applications, i.e. how to reach customers, first through desktop and then through mobile and then through social and commercial media. Now there are more obstacles and one of those significant obstacles and challenges is how do you protect your infrastructure and your client data within that environment?”

Serious investment in stringent, effective security solutions that can detect a threat and prevent one will be high on the boardroom priority list going into 2017.

In terms of implementing a company-wide security strategy this task often falls to the CIO. How will their role change moving into 2017?


It has fast become a realisation within organisations that the CIO and indeed the whole IT department is an increasingly important part of maintaining operations.

IT’s role is not simply to keep the lights on, but rather a useful transformative tool that redefines how operations are managed and improved.

By embracing digital trends IT departments and the CIO can link different parts of the business to collaborate in new, more efficient ways.

There will be a need for more intelligent services and devices that will make IT complexity a top CIO priority.

>See also: 2017 cloud predictions

“In 2017, we will see more demand for intelligent services and devices – this will be powered by more advanced algorithms, AI and advanced machine learning,” suggests Jamie Tyler, director of digital transformation and innovation at CenturyLink.

“These technologies will provide the ability for these services/devices to start to understand, learn, predict, adapt and operate autonomously. For example, retailers will provide more reliable online recommendation systems for customers, driverless cars will be smart enough to be rolled out to consumers, security architecture will be more adaptive and permeate all technology processes, etc. Although culturally we, as humans, may not be ready to accept all these new advances.”

“However, these technology requirements will translate into increased complexity for CIOs who need to incorporate the new technology with existing infrastructure. 93% of CIOs believed that IT complexity has increased, yet only 20% of them have the necessary skills and resources to deal with that complexity. This trend will only continue in 2017.”

“In 2017, tackling the complexity challenge will become a top CIO priority as companies tackle ambitious and digital transformation projects (within finite budgets) that will help companies transform their propositions, ways of working and help keep them ahead of the competition.“

Another fundamental development in the role of the CIO will be their position as company defender, more often than not.

A cyber attack, as mentioned, will dent an organisation’s finances and reputation.

The growing amount of data being utilised combined with the evolving ferocity of cyber criminals attacks means that the CIO will have to change the status quo security strategy of many an organisation.

>See also: 10 predictions for the Internet of Things and big data in 2017

It is no longer a case of simply keeping threats out, but rather being able to deal with one when an inevitable attack breaches the ‘wall’.

In this instance a digital transformation policy will have a positive effect. By investing in AI solutions for business critical processes, for example, this technology can also be integrated into cyber security strategies and will help mitigate the risk.

Implementing innovative cyber security strategies in line with digital transformation processes will be a crucial aspect for the CIO’s job moving into 2017.

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...