The role of chief information officers seems to be drastically changing, regardless of whether these professionals are happy about it. As companies continuously strategize and come up with revolutionary ways to overhaul their businesses, they may be reshaping their visions of what CIOs are and what they do. In light of all this rearranging and renovating, it behooves information technology experts to be flexible and adjust to change so that they can remain relevant to their organizations’ plans and have better job security.
Even if CIOs have worked with their current companies for years, there is no guarantee that the skills and credentials that originally helped them land their jobs are going to be useful in keeping them employed. The more that businesses redefine their objectives and restructure their internal operations, employers are likely to adopt different expectations for these upper-level tech professionals. In some cases, organizations may even go so far as to find that their CIOs’ services are no longer needed. With these instances, in addition to other circumstances, companies could put their IT executives’ positions into question, and CIOs may be out of a job.
Experience is not everything
Maryfran Johnson with CIO Magazine explained that no one – including some of the most tenured IT professionals – should assume that they can sit back, relax and be worry-free about their positions being put on the line. However, Johnson pointed out that Mark Stone, former CIO at Zale, was suddenly cast into the unemployment pool in 2009 when his company decided to downsize. For the first time in 14 years, Stone found himself looking for a job, showing that experience is not always a safeguard that will leave IT executives unscathed from corporate cutbacks and restructuring.
While economic factors are out of employees’ hands, there are other circumstances that they can control to ensure that their jobs are not placed on the chopping block. For one thing, CIOs have to show that they are still an asset to their evolving firms, developing new talents and dipping into new areas that would be of use to their employers.
“Where a CIO may once have received job offers based on reputation and well-known IT achievements, those factors are only part of the equation today,” wrote CIO Magazine’s managing editor Kim S. Nash. “The Great Recession, followed now by an intense period of digital disruption, has left some companies – some CEOs, really – unsure of what they want in a CIO.”
Get down to business
Despite lingering uncertainty that has put the overall duties of corporate IT executives up in the air, there is one trait that companies would like to see in their CIOs: business acumen. The more that general business functions become reliant of technology, the more that organizations are going to need executives who are able to wield IT solutions in a business-savvy manner. To accomplish this, ComputerWeekly advised that companies take on a new attitude when it comes to their roles, acting more like venture capitalists than IT professionals.
“The modus operandi of the CIO has been risk avoidance,” Deloitte’s global chief technology officer Mark White told Computer Weekly. “We would suggest that risk intelligence is a much more appropriate stance.”
The fact of the matter is that steering clear of risk is no longer an option in the tech world. The source pointed out that with more recent developments, such as crowdsourcing and big data, there are few certainties that CIOs encounter. This means that decisions businesses make based information acquired through these IT measures may be gambles to some extent.
For this reason, tech executives leveraging solutions to accumulate, analyze and interpret data should approach these initiatives from a venture capitalist standpoint. CIOs need to have the right amount of business intuition so that they know how to best implement these tools and reveal the most useful tidbits that would benefit their organizations. If these professionals are responsible for presenting information uncovered in their day-to-day functions, then they may also want to be prepared to provide guidance and insight to accompany their interpretations so that companies will be able to make the best investments possible as they move forward.