"What if the role of the CIO were not just to deliver tactics against pre-existing business requirements, but to redefine what’s possible for an enterprise?"
Wired Magazine asks the question as they outline the CIO's sub-roles of strategist, catalyst, technologist and operator. The challenge and opportunity here are agility and technology. The first means creating opportunities to expand beyond a “just plumbing” organizational mindset. And the second focuses on the power to deliver true value and the opportunity to the business.
How the role of CIO has changed
Transformative digital technologies have pushed the CIO to become a business enabler, and more visible and enterprising. These technologies include automation, cloud, data analytics, machine learning and IoT, among others.
While the evolution of the CIO position is natural, IT's rapid development stretches even the most ambitious leader. This is how TechTarget captures the significance of the change:
“CIOs are [now] relied upon to lead their companies' digital advancements by creating an IT strategy that sets the course of innovation while accommodating digital initiatives.”
A job description that demands innovation building can be pressuring enough. But headcount and budget allocation have not increased with expectations for the role either. Basically, IT is expected to do more with less.
84% of top CIOs now have responsibility for areas outside of traditional IT.
Digitization spurs new priorities – alongside a full slate of historical departmental responsibilities. In enterprise tech speak, leverage simply means using tools, systems or techniques to convert relatively small effort into significantly greater output.
Digital transformation won't fit nicely alongside traditional management processes or cleanly under one leader’s org chart. It is clear that IT leaders have to get more. But more out of themselves, their teams and their budgets to succeed in the new enterprise era.
One industry survey shares that at least 84% of top CIOs are now responsible for areas outside of traditional IT. And the most common areas are innovation and transformation. Further research reveals that 95% of CIOs expect digitization to change or remix their job. Regardless of where or how new responsibilities intersect business and technology, IT will have a key role to play.
But without suitable systems leverage, the CIO position is challenging. How else can they handle the burden of IT consumerization, mobile workforces, big-data challenges, shadow IT and cost management.
Enterprises expect their IT teams to take on cross-functional projects.
IT possesses the ability and technical know-how to cross silos, functions and divisions. Therefore, as enterprises evolve, they expect their IT teams to take on projects that are cross-functional. These include those that save resources, enhance productivity, and secure the enterprise.
And one of the latest assignments is managing SaaS.
Gartner predicts another banner year for SaaS use. They forecast a market size of $85 billion and 17.8% year-over-year growth. According to InformationWeek, the driver is a bottom-up software purchasing model where “[...] people expect to try, buy and deploy an app in a few minutes or less, and without contacting IT [...]”.
Unfortunately, this volume overwhelms any IT team’s capacity to organize, prioritize or manage software. However, with significant cost and security concerns, the CIO role must cover this too. Hiring more people is rarely possible. What about assigning smart, capable people to manage SaaS with spreadsheets? It's an option, but a strategic error. Therefore, it is vital to apply systems leverage.
Cleanshelf has become the go-to cloud management superpower.
One option for IT? An all-in-one SaaS optimization platform to track, optimize and benchmark cloud subscriptions.
For senior IT leaders, Cleanshelf has become the go-to cloud management superpower. As can be seen, they are masters at creating rapid leverage in critical cost-savings areas. Their fully-automated solution directly integrates with financial systems and cloud accounts. This is how it tracks spend and helps leaders maintain cost-effective software use.
There are no static spreadsheets to manage or lost licenses to account for. Also no rogue managers to chase down - and no wasted money either.
But the bottom line is that IT needs to find leverage. Without this, they cannot create value. They can't even hope to adapt to a changing enterprise landscape or meet company expectations. So, if software can be used at low risk and cost, with minimal disruption, then IT leaders should take a look.
Only the right tools can enhance this leverage and bring the CIO position up to date.