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The Evolving Role of the CIO

13 days ago by Luigi Muscat Filletti
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As technology continues paving the way forward, careers in Tech will be presenting themselves at a steady pace as companies will be looking to stay at the edge of the latest technologies to provide customers with the best solutions and services. This demands a talented workforce with the right skills in place to deliver the desirable results, only made possible by a company who’s vision is lead by leaders who inspire and encourage digital innovation.

That being said, as technology has been advancing, the roles of the CTO (Chief Technology Officer) and CIO (Chief Information Officer) have been interlaced many times over, with the role of the CIO even ceasing to exist officially in quite a few organisations. To start with, the CTO’s role is focused on optimising the company’s direction in terms of investing in technology to provide the best technological solutions to customers. On the other hand, the CIO’s role is more centred around generating internal value through technology, with attention shifted towards data security, analysis, networks and in-depth research to strategise company operations relating to data. As one may notice, the roles of the CTO and CIO should coexist, as one feeds off the other in a process for growth.

'Data Scientists and Analysts are at times trusted to carrying out duties dealt with by the CIO, as by nature, professionals who aspire to securing this Executive spot normally emerge out of such careers.'

Traditionally, the CIO’s duties would facilitate senior tasks seen to by IT directors, and the specifications of the role would differ according to the needs and modes of operation of the organisation in question. On the other hand, with new areas of expertise emerging today, tasks usually handled by the CIO tend to be passed over to a wider range of professionals, according to the organisation type and size. Data Scientists and Analysts are at times trusted to carrying out duties dealt with by the CIO, as by nature, professionals who aspire to securing this Executive spot normally emerge out of such careers.

'With a rapid increase of speed and simplification across all services, and now with the introduction of AI and Blockchain in various sectors, the role of the CIO is to adapt and innovate accordingly.'

During the past decade, technological advancements have altered the attention and demands of the end consumer. With a rapid increase of speed and simplification across all services, and now with the introduction of AI and Blockchain in various sectors, the role of the CIO is to adapt and innovate accordingly. The reality is that digital is now present in all areas of a business, meaning that the CIO’s role is changing with the development of technology, and as a result, so is the expectation placed upon them. Fundamentally, however, the essence of their role remains unchanged - to provide greater value to their company through the use of technology. Thus, this role brings along with it a great deal of business drive and development, especially now with the introduction of Big Data, IoT, Blockchain and Cryptocurrency which are posing some interesting technological concepts in various sectors worldwide. With new and emerging technologies affecting the way consumers think, feel and react, the CIO must understand and innovate from within to drive customer engagement and revenue.

'With new and emerging technologies affecting the way consumers think, feel and react, the CIO must understand and innovate from within to drive customer engagement and revenue.'

In order to achieve this, the CIO must embrace disruptive technologies and define the best possible path forward once doing so. The role has shifted from one which is operational, to one which is more strategic. This means that the CIO must make use of new technologies to manage and implement data in an innovative way. The CIO must hence be able to manage a team of talented individuals progressing through their careers in Tech. From Software Developers specialising in AI and Blockchain, to Fintech Developers, Data Analysts, Cyber Security Officers, UX Designers and App Developers, the CIO must be able to acquire the best talent to fulfill the predefined technological objectives of the company. With the number of jobs in Malta in the sphere of Tech on a steady inclination, the CIO ultimately joins the war for attracting talent to their company. Planning long-term goals will thus be beneficial to the CIO as they will more clearly understand what expertise is needed to carry out the necessary tasks. Therefore, there comes a level of responsibility  and self-awareness in this C-Suite position which is not only centred around technological knowledge, however also knowledge and experience on business development, leadership and managing people. They therefore affect the company culture through their actions within the Tech departments of the organisation, and also influence the organisation’s employer branding image. CIO’s should thus make it a priority to communicate the company’s technological vision effectively, and be transparent about their goals and work ethic into achieving those goals.

'The CIO must hence be able to manage a team of talented individuals progressing through their careers in Tech.'

Being able to attract top talent in Tech today is vital, and retaining that talent even more so, making it important for a company to maintain a consistent and transparent image of growth and opportunity for their employees. This goes hand in hand with the CIO setting a long-term vision for the company, allowing employees the opportunities to collaborate internally and apply creative solutions to provide the best services to their customers by developing great software infrastructures.