Many things altered as a result of the pandemic, both inside and beyond the IT world. It ushered in a new era of authority and leadership for chief information officers (CIOs).
Many other C-level executives have viewed the role with skepticism for some years now. The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly altered that mindset.
As the pandemic spread across industries and marketplaces, business leaders turned to CIOs for technology solutions to seemingly irresolvable problems. In general, IT executives not only completed the task but also highlighted methods to improve critical business operations in the long run.
Today digital transformation has become an urgent business imperative, making the CIO even more important in ensuring that organizations are well-positioned for growth and profitability. When the pandemic first broke out, many CIOs found themselves in charge of ensuring that their whole workforce had the tools they needed to make the shift to remote work as smoothly as possible. CIOs are now directing the critical move from remote to hybrid work models as companies begin to bring employees back to the office.
The CIO has been expected to bridge the gap between enterprise business and technology units since the inception of the position. The CIO’s role has grown in the past two years as the work paradigm for many companies has significantly changed. Screen-sharing software, cloud-based application shifts, return-to-office rules and protocols, and health checks are all examples of large-scale advances in remote working. The CIO was largely responsible for selecting and designing these technologies, and businesses expect this trend to continue with the new hybrid work environment.
A brighter future
The pandemic clearly increased the CIO’s authority and influence, but the indicators of this transition were there well before the pandemic. Many CIOs were on their way to becoming cross-functional business leaders, and the pandemic thrust them into the spotlight, hastening their progress. The good news is that, even when the physical world ground to a halt, many CIOs rose to the occasion and successfully navigated the move to digital.
In this new future of work, the responsibilities of CIOs have expanded beyond IT to include supporting employee well-being and establishing workplace culture. In this environment, IT leaders have shifted their focus from traditional IT to new technologies that enable employees, whether remote or in-office, to engage and feel engaged in the workplace.
COVID taught businesses that they don’t need elaborate, large-scale strategies to achieve their goals. The pandemic also demonstrated that large-scale changes can occur in a continual manner. CIOs should implement and execute by learning from vendors and partners who themselves learn from their cutting-edge clients, rather than pretending to know everything.
According to industry experts, the CIO role will become more interwoven in the fabric of strategic organizational design, and its importance will only increase.
A sword with two edges
Increasing technology and adding more responsibilities to the CIOs’ already challenging workload can be a double-edged sword. If the appropriate leadership, operational model, and capabilities are in place to exploit this potential, it has the capability to unlock enormous value for businesses. On the other hand, if this is done without regard for the current condition of affairs and the intricacy of the path, it can result in disappointment and failure.