So I’m going to try and make a bold prediction, hopefully unlike the one famous mistake made by Robert Metcalfe!!
My prediction is based on my own personal experiences and my observations of the radical changes our industry has been through and continues to adapt to……
Within the next 5 years we will see a major rise in CIO’s moving into CEO positions.
There are several factors, which I will go into more detail on, which is leading me to believe this will be the case. However there still is the obvious fact that the individuals in their current CIO position’s, must have the drive and desire to move into the leadership position of CEO. There are many individuals who have already made this move; Philip Clarke – Tesco CIO to CEO, David Yu – Betfair CTO to CEO & Sarah Wilkinson – Home Office CTO and CEO of NHS Digital to name but a few and the number of those appointments continues to rise.
Firstly, let’s look at what is generally happening in the market place. The “consumerisation” of technology is growing at an expediential rate. It has never been easier than today to click and buy services and the range of those services are growing. Historically technical purchases have been largely made on the ability of the technology to do something faster, cheaper or more securely. Whilst this is still a factor, the onus now is much more on what financial gains the service can provide to the organisation. People are less interested in how it works but more what it can achieve. What this leads to is conversations at board level around “justified business investments” rather that capital budget release. To present an effective business case the CIO has to have different conversations and use a different language than they have previously had to. Those willing to embrace that change are taking their first steps up the ladder.
Secondly, the CEO should understand all internal aspects of a company – finance, sales, marketing, supply chain management and operations. CIOs often worry about “business” executives who come to them with fully formed ideas for the IT department to fulfil, as opposed to coming to them with needs or opportunities and asking IT to uncover potential ways to solve the needs, or to bring the opportunities to life. Now CIOs are increasingly becoming familiar with these areas and having to become much more proactive. Technology more than ever, now permeates all these parts of a business and CIO’s need to be the driving force behind transformational change and articulate how technology can facilitate operational efficiencies. Those individuals who are more willing to step up and take the lead are taking greater control and influence within their respective businesses.
Finally, as every business person knows customers are king! No business can operate without them. The way in which organisations are interacting with their customers is fundamentally changing. Digitalisation is driving a change in the market that has never been seen before, this change is pushing CIO’s closer to their customer base and gaining a much wider understanding of how the function of technology is driving faster and more efficient customer transactions. This puts the CIO in the driving seat when the CEO is looking at their strategy behind growth and profitability.
I’ll remain quietly confident that my prediction will hold up well, it will however be interesting to look back at this in 5 years’ time and see how the current state of play compares to today. One thing that stands clear in my mind is that, if all you talk about is technology, that is going to limit you.