Taking centre stage – the key factors putting CIOs in the limelight

As we see new technology trends emerge that affect the enterprise, the CIO is often responsible for ensuring they benefit rather than hinder employees and customers.

The result is that the modern CIO has been placed under a great deal of pressure from a range of directions. Employees, customers and ultimately the boardroom all have particular views on the way technology should be implemented in a modern business environment.

Previously, senior IT roles were focused on improving operational efficiency and managing infrastructure. Whilst not a straightforward task, it meant that resources and focus could be consolidated to address problems that could be handled at a steady rate of change.

> See also: Will the chief digital officer KO the CIO?

Now the CIO and their team are required to align with the demands of an evolving workforce at the same time as helping the business focus on its key services. This all occurs in an economic environment where budgets often remain constrained and the focus continues to be on cost-cutting rather than innovation.

Such a shifting dynamic means that successful CIOs have to rapidly evolve to stay relevant while driving broader business change.

Survival of the fittest

One of the key challenges facing the CIO is being able to juggle the multitude of demands facing them from across the business. One clear priority is ensuring they provide employees and customers with the services they need when they want them.

The efficient provision of IT has become a key expectation with both groups requiring a certain level of user experience in order to be both engaged and productive.

Employees want to use devices of their choice and customers want a smooth multi-channel experience. Yet at the same time, it’s important to be able to demonstrate to the CEO and the Board how IT services are delivering new ways of generating revenues.

This balancing act is new to many CIOs and their ability to manage it has the potential to determine the success or failure of a business.

To address this, many CIOs have adopted a customer-centric approach to IT, where the value of a particular project depends on how it engages and helps the customer.

As services change to align with the needs of the evolving workforce and businesses restructure to put the customer and user at the centre of their business, the CIO must assess their IT capabilities, and ensure that they can satisfy these needs in a secure and seamless way.

The era of customer-centricity

As we enter a customer-centric age, the margin between competitors now lies in the way they deal with customers. Even in situations where products are clearly differentiated, a poor experience for a customer can damage brand reputation.

This puts pressure on ensuring that all customer interactions are right every time, with significant implications for business growth and top line revenues. A large part of the responsibility for this ultimately falls within the IT department and the CIO’s remit.

Whether the experience is with partners, suppliers or external customers, digital technologies should be used to enrich the customer experience in a way it hasn’t previously.

Mastering many talents

As the focus of the CIO has shifted in many organisations, we are now seeing the creation of roles to help manage the new approach. Many CEOs have created new positions, such as Chief Digital Officer, to improve the focus on digital transformation and ultimately customer engagement.

> See also: How a CIO's key decision-making moments can drive digital transformation

The business case behind improved customer engagement has meant that it is now a board level topic, focusing on the opportunity it presents for growth and competitive advantage.

Time for a CIO encore

The new era of IT has meant that the CIO has had to evolve. To stay relevant there has to be a renewed focus on the customer across all elements of technology. Many have already done this successfully, driving wider business transformation and company growth.

The key to ensuring that this happens more widely is focusing on what really matters, making the delivery of IT better for people, better for IT and better for business.

Sourced from Jason Tooley, UK & Ireland country manager, Citrix

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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