13 Aug Avantisteam Announced CIOs Strive for Balance Between Looking Inward and Outward
Technology’s expanding reach in the corporate world means chief information officers are taking a bigger role in developing business strategies and customer services, while still keeping underlying systems running smoothly.
Striking the wrong balance between these two demands can hurt a company’s performance—either due to productivity issues caused by poor internal technology implementation, or through faulty or off-target digital services that turn customers away, CIOs and industry analysts say.
It is important for any CIO to oversee traditional back-end enterprise information technology, said
a vice president at research and advisory company
“But it is not sufficient anymore,” he said.
Mr. Faria said technology leaders today must know how to handle two corporate needs—delivering stability through traditional IT and being innovative.
“This is the toughest time to be a CIO, but also an exciting time,” said
Steve Van Kuiken,
a senior partner at consulting firm McKinsey & Co. “You have the challenge of being both a business strategist and a technology expert,” he said, adding that few people can juggle both at the same time.
In a report last week, McKinsey said the reliance on technology leaders in the business world continues to increase, with cloud computing, advanced applications and other IT modernization efforts seen as a way to achieve corporate goals.
said in a report last year that more than 80% of IT executives said their role is becoming more strategic, and nearly 70% said they are on their company’s executive committee.
Most companies favor IT leaders who are focused on “outward-facing initiatives, such as new products and services, customer engagement and entering new markets” ahead of inward-facing operational IT, according to a joint report published this year by recruitment company Harvey Nash Group PLC and accounting firm KPMG LLC.
Often, both roles are important, said
chief technology officer at
PayPal has combined several senior technology roles, including chief information officer, under the role of CTO, a post Mr. Shivananda took on three years ago.
He said the dual responsibilities of corporate IT leaders are “part of the shift in IT from a cost center to being part of the revenue line of a company,” as sales are increasingly driven by digital technologies like cloud computing and data analytics.
To juggle these roles, Mr. Shivananda said he delegates tasks to others among the company’s more than 2,000 IT workers. That enables him to carve out enough time to contribute to top-level strategy sessions without neglecting key IT functions.
“We need to have the ability to go deep on IT issues if we need to,” Mr. Shivananda said. “And we have to pay attention to aspects of the business that many others don’t even see,” he added, citing online security as an example.
The rise of automation is also taking some of the pressure off CIOs, as more repetitive tasks are taken over by tools like robotic process automation, said
a vice president and principal analyst serving CIO professionals at
“Ten years ago, if someone was a CIO you could list four basic things they do,” he said. “Now it’s more of a question of what kind of CIO are you.”
Write to Angus Loten at [email protected]
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