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From Technology to Business- The Transforming CIO Moniker

Author Ajay Chauhan

Author- Ajay Chauhan, Co-Founder, SalezShark

The changing nature of enterprises proffered by rapid shifts in work organization as well as business ecosystem has lead to intrinsic transformation of roles and responsibilities within them. The metamorphosing role of CIO or CTOs into monikers such as Business Heads or Head of Management Operations is one among conversions. When it comes to a technical breakdown resulting abrupt halts in operations and therefore outputs, mean spirited monikers comes up as Chief Idiot Officer or even Career Is Over! Such instances call for intuitive roles of technical person for smooth running of operations. According to Barbara Gomolski, a research VP at Gartner Inc, even though at present there are less than 20% CIOs with multiple roles and titles, the increasing trend can be perceived from the fact that the figure was less than 5% just a couple of years back.

IT is used in businesses with an objective to attain their goals as frugally as possible and at the same time enabling process efficiency. Companies use IT as a differentiator to proffer innovation embedding it into every aspect of business. Most of them outsources technology platform from providers who becomes a third party stakeholder for the enterprise. Hence, these ventures require management personals apt at both technology and business management, who could supervise the portfolio. This is where the role of CIO is substantiated as a channel to connect the technical and non-technical facets of the business.

Moreover, the split roles of CIOs as CTOs (Chief Technology Officers) has materialized because of division in IT itself into its supply and demand sides. CTO are generally the experts in technology delivery and CIOs are the ones who specialize in application of technology in the business, with special reference to improvement in output. The role of CIOs is more about bridging in the gap between technology components and business requirements. The thin line demarcating the roles of CTOs and CIOs is getting thinner and hanging on to these monikers is less important as there are no industry specific standards for the same. Emphasis on their responsibilities rather than their titles will be fruitful in analyzing their swift shift from technology to business.

The creation of dual role Hybrid CIOs is trending throughout corporate spaces. Titles such as head of business transformation and head of business process change or management are the most common additions. CIOs are now even identified with contrasting roles like Head of service Delivery and Head of Supply Chain. In fact, what companies do; is managing a team of interrelated functions such as finance, operations, technology and business development to work out the best possible solutions to maximize overall output. Such cross-functional teams correlated the diverse heads of an enterprise producing a combined impetus to boost productivity.

For smooth running of an enterprise, tech persons need to operate beyond just switches and flash lights locked inside the juggled room of wires and machines. Intensive involvement with the staff and management at all levels is required through routine communication. This allows having a better understanding of issues faced while working on the system and eradicating them intuitively. Therefore, only technical understanding will not help when it comes to running a glitch free business platform. CTOs must know how to communicate with users to understand the real issue. Most of the times, affect of technical complexities obscures the real problem and it becomes tough to distinguish the symptoms from the cause. Hence, soft skills are gaining prominence equal to hard technical knowledge substantiating the transformational roles of CIOs as well as CTOs.

As projected by George Colony, CEO of Forrester Research the time has come for the final transformation from technologists to businesspersons and as far as departmental monikers are concerned, the move is from Information Technology to Business Technology. This metamorphosis has resulted CIOs and CTOs transforming into the line of business managers such as COO or CEOs. According to Colony, technology business is over and now the time has come to align everything with the core business of the enterprise.

The language of business is more effective than technical terms when it comes to productivity. The influence of technology is not diminishing; it is in fact, increasing but collaterally to business. Hence, technologies will need to adapt to businesses rather than businesses adapting to technologies. This is the underlining connotation of the changing roles of CIOs. The future of CIOs is within a collaborative environment with other executing processes.

The hassle with technology and their management has been a long-standing issue and the transition of CIO roles is a solution to this. These IT heads functioning as advisors as well as intermediaries in business filled in the chasms in technology management. Necessity is the mother of invention and business sphere will go on evolving with new traits and tract changes. Hence, the current transformation might be only an onset of larger changes within enterprises that are introduced by prolific transfusions of technology to businesses.

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