From being mere technology facilitators and advisors to now assuming a significant decision-making position in the company, the CTO/CIO roles have evolved
Today, CTOs and CIOs need to work in tandem with the CEO to help translate the business growth strategy into a tangible solution
Remote working has forced organisations to reconsider their networking environments, evolving the role of CTOs and CIOs, beyond tech
With the rapid digitalization of almost every business sector, the roles of CTOs and CIOs have evolved drastically over the last 2 years. As enterprises grapple with the dynamic technological transformations required in the pandemic and post-pandemic era, CTOs and CIOs are expected to lead every transformation project.
Performing a fine balancing act between seeking out path-breaking emerging IT technologies and building a bridge between business, consumers and technology, CTOs and CIOs are the key drivers of enterprise digital transformation. However, with the pace at which technology, consumer expectations, and legacy processes are evolving, the CTO/CIO role has become a much more prominent and demanding one. This article discusses the evolution and the challenges they face in meeting the new demands, in the digital-first economy.
Evolution of the CTO/CIO role in a pan-industry technological transformation
Traditionally, the functions of CTOs and CIOs were confined to identifying and tracking emerging IT trends and policies that could improve their company’s products and services and managing mundane processes. They weren’t tasked with interpreting how these trends would affect their customers; most enterprises had another officer at the CXO level to do that. But the pandemic-induced acceleration in digital transformation is changing this modus operandi. The case with tech-focused organizations was different though, where the CTO/CIO played an active role in customer-facing strategy. But in other companies, where tech was not a focus, seldom did even the position of CTO/CIO remain vacant.
Today, however, things have drastically changed. CTOs and CIOs are now tasked with developing new business models, integrating teams and silos, streamlining communication, digitizing products, and providing immersive experiences to customers buying remotely. From being mere technology facilitators and advisors to now assuming a significant decision-making position in the company, CTO/CIO roles have evolved to include key responsibilities in Human Resource Management, Cyber Security and digital transformation led business strategies. With remote working and hybrid workplaces, digital payments for consumers, automation of work processes and modernisation of legacy technology, they have evolved as the new ‘matchmakers’ and thereby are becoming an indispensable part of the company.
Digital Transformation Challenges That Await CTOs & CIOs
6 out of 7 managers believe that teams with remote workers will become the new norm. 73% of all departments across industries are expected to have remote workers by 2028. To cut the long story short, remote working is here to stay and that presents a unique set of challenges for C-level technological decision-makers.
Digitization of workflows
When teams started working off-site, digitization of data and workflows was the driving force to support that shift. The rapid shift to off-site working and the pressing need to create new workflows and implementation systems illustrated just how agile technological systems need to be today. And to deliver cutting-edge technology at speed, modern CIOs need to modernize and prioritize work streams, enable new workflows, agile DevOps practices and management models and software that streamline processes.
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Online collaborations between and within teams became the cornerstone of remote working systems. Collaboration platforms such as Zoom and Teams minimized communication gaps. But the challenge here for CTOs and CIOs is to maintain the inward efficiency of their organization when online meetings and calls are the only means of interpersonal communication between employees. Cross-department collaboration helps align strategies with the overall business vision. Finding safe, efficient and agile collaboration technologies to facilitate ongoing communication between teams and clients could be the key to success in a fast-moving business environment.
Cybersecurity is a bigger challenge with remote working than it was pre-pandemic. By the end of 2022, a large proportion of employees would be digitally empowered with data and AI to improve their productivity and real-time decision-making. But in a remote working scenario, what this also does is open up more avenues for cyberattacks. A recent report published by Tenable suggests that more than 70% of Indian organizations attribute recent cyberattacks to vulnerabilities in technologies that were put in place as a response to the pandemic; 56% of respondents also suggested that the attacks specifically targeted remote workers.
Crafting Customer Experiences
Over the latter part of the last decade, the CTO’s role evolved to encompass the creation of hyper-personalized consumer experiences. As more and more customers move to buying or interacting with a business ‘remotely’, the onus is on the CTOs to offer them a truly immersive experience that matches or even surpasses the in-store experience. And because every interaction is now remote enabled, the CTO is responsible for charting processes that best leverage the immersive capabilities of AR and VR and craft unique, memorable customer experiences at a time when every enterprise is trying to do the same.
The Cloud Solution
Cloud migration provides an all-encompassing solution to each of the challenges discussed here. So finding the solution isn’t the problem, but because there are just so many options to choose from, choosing the best one is! And considering that 84% of digital transformation projects fail due to poor adoption of technology, we reckon this is a difficult and important choice to make.
Cloud tools and workflows need to be evaluated strategically to identify where and how they align with the enterprise requirements. It takes a lot of time and resources to evaluate which cloud employs the best security protocols or has the most streamlined migration and collaboration processes. This is where CTOs and CIOs could perhaps use some external help. Partnering with a certified cloud partner with pan-industry experience can help CTOs/CIOs correctly assess the viability of each option, take a more informed decision, and expedite the transformation.
Remote working has forced organisations to reconsider their networking environments. Migration to the cloud, investing in VPN, and implementing novel collaboration technologies became a necessity. But going forward, these shifts are likely to form the groundwork for innovation and set new technology goals.
Pre-pandemic business decisions were made by CEOs. But today, it is more about how CTOs and CIOs can work in tandem with the CEO to help translate the business growth strategy into a tangible solution that could be delivered remotely with the help of technology. And it’s perhaps time for them to emerge as leaders on this long-winded road towards successful digital transformation.