in Business Strategy, IT+Strategy

Emergence of #CEOofIT / #CEOofTechnology, the next frontier for Technology executives (CIOs/CTOs)

Technology is a nascent function compared to others in any organization. It has become a function of its own late 80’s and early 90’s. Now with so many advancements in the technology space predominantly Web, Mobile, IoT, Big Data, Wearables etc., the IT or technology is becoming integral to the success of any organization. The new trends in technology and consumer behavior has not only changed the technology landscape it also influenced the role of the CIO. The technology which was relegated to automating Back office functions is now getting into hands of everyone. Thanks to Mobile revolution. The next era is driven by technologies like Big Data, IoT, Wearables, Driverless cars etc. These trends are not just making consumer life better but also becoming critical to survival of companies as well as forcing the companies to rethink their business models altogether. To adopt to this new world, the CIO’s have to re-think their role and help navigate this change. I think the future Business requires, the CIO to be the CEOofIT or CEOofTechnology to evolve from current role from steward of IT/Technology . Here are four reasons that is behind this change:

  • Technology is everywhere: Technology has become integral part of every day life for both Business and Customers (consumers too). If it’s not already there, it will become part of every product or service that is available today.
  • Accelerated pace of Technology obsolescence: While Technology is becoming core to every product or service imagined, the rate of change is so fast that it is difficult to achieve sustainable scale before getting disrupted by a new innovation or technological break through. More importantly, the companies have to disrupt themselves to be relevant in the market place.
  • Reduced barriers of entry: Long gone are the days when it required huge capital and product readiness before a company is considered a success. Thanks to Startup culture and entrepreneurial spirit, many companies are reaching $1 Billion valuation (termed unicorns). in less than 2 years of their founding even with limited commercial success threatening many industries that enjoyed decades of limited competition. For example, with the commercialization of 3-D printing a small company is now able to build a car with limited capital without needing to invest in huge  in factories, personnel etc., competing with Detroit behemoths.
  • Rising customer expectations: Customer are now paying far more attention to product of service performance and value they provide. They are punishing companies that miss on that expectation. They have become less loyal to a brand or product and are becoming savvy with knowledge of competing alternatives.

This means that companies have to take a closer look at the impact and influence of technology. CIO/CTO’s that were once taking the back seat or are next to them now need to take the front seat and help companies navigate in this context of constant technological change. They need to learn to take more outward view of their market and customer landscape and help the boards understand the issues that are at the intersection of business and technology. These executives must take this opportunity to start demonstrating their leadership in influencing the new vision of the company that is underpinned by technology.

In summary, they need to begin thinking like a CEO of a technology business. Which would be a next logical step for forward thinking CIO’s that are already managing the “Business” of IT today.

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