Successful CIOs understand the full business opportunity

There’s no coincidence that we’re seeing not only businesses but also CIO’s facing new and wide-ranging challenges. From increasing customer demands and ensuring that the business is run profitably, to enabling staff to work better remotely, the role and function of IT is both exciting and challenging in ways that nobody could ever have anticipated.

We speak every day with businesses, in all kinds of industries that are going through this period of change – those facing increased demands and needing to look at ways where technology can enable effectiveness, innovation and agility. What we often hear about is that for too long IT professionals have suffered from perception issues – when things are going well IT are forgotten about, when something goes wrong it’s an organisation wide catastrophe.

What this report highlights is that CIOs need to do more to become a true partner across the business and specifically to the senior leadership team. While 95% of CIOs think they are meeting these new challenges, many of their colleagues are telling us otherwise.

Whilst some of the findings in this report will make hard reading, what is clear is that most CIOs see the opportunity to add value to the business and have the motivation to make a difference.

Successful modern businesses need to operate more efficiently and effectively than ever before, across every business function, process and delivery. The increased need for astute, cost effective and flexible solutions has never been greater. For IT Directors and CIOs this means they need to move away from being seen as just a support function and towards a role as an innovator who is driving change and transformation across the business.

Today, communications has so many requirements: to facilitate better collaboration between colleagues; build relationships with distant suppliers; ensure immediate access to the right information when you need it; and be accessible wherever you are so customers and colleagues can easily and quickly contact you. You need technology to empower, inspire and support your staff to get their job done, in the best way  possible, with the tools they need at their fingertips. This translates into a need to be more mobile than ever before. That is why the IT Director and CIO have become so prominent – they are the lynchpin between the business driver and the technology which makes it happen.

As an organisation that not only embraces but pioneers new ways of flexible working, Vodafone know the needs and the challenges of working remotely; because we live it every day. We know that being more flexible ensures higher productivity, but that this depends on your technology being geared up to service your staff properly.

When you are on the road, you need the right information at your fingertips – an area where having use of a cloud-based system can help. We use virtual meeting technology to build relationships when you’re not able to actually be by your customers’ side, as well as applications for reporting, administration and keeping in touch with colleagues via instant messaging and social tools. These powerful new technologies and enablers have transformed the way we do business, but it means your technology real estate is becoming increasingly complicated and security risks are continually on the rise.

Of course as IT professionals we all know that this flexibility brings added challenges – but more and more of us are recognising the unique opportunity to use this period of change to reshape not only the role but also the image of the CIO.

Underlying technological shifts, an increase in disruptive startups wanting a piece of your market share and the cost of data breaches are all compelling reasons for the CIO to take their rightful seat at the top table of executive management. In the age of the new IT crowd, CIOs are increasingly realising they are boardroom leaders – it’s a change that requires new relationships, new ways of thinking and improved collaboration.