Community Blog What Is the Future Like for CIOs?

What Is the Future Like for CIOs?

This article discusses the evolving role of the CIOs and how the future CIOs should be responsible for business functions that fall out of the CIO purview traditionally.

By Alex Muchiri, an Alibaba Cloud MVP. He is the founder of Itesyl Technologies, a financial data and business banking solutions company.

The CIO has to oversee how information is acquired, stored, analyzed, and transacted within an organization. The information inside and outside an organization is constantly evolving both in size and complexity, and the CIO should strategically interpret such information for the benefit of the organization. In the past, the CIO had a simpler role of maintaining a functional IT system and mitigating risks. However, this role is changing and new skill sets are necessary to help maintain an organization's competitive edge. It is becoming increasingly intertwined with business efficiency, with emphasis on the strategic corporate development plans, identifying market opportunities, and using technology as a driver for the growth of new opportunities. In this new role, the CIO is more than a proficient technology expert.

1) How the Role of a CIO Will Evolve

The CIO's role within an organization has largely been to support IT, which in turn supported business strategy; and as many CIOs have been quoted, the role is now swarmed with new functions. IT is at the forefront of business strategy change. In the next five years, this function will continue to expand. Some of the interesting developments include artificial intelligence and machine learning, which are leading the development of strategic planning tools that are taking the CIO to the frontline of customer engagement and innovation of processes throughout an organization. Information and data analysis are driving nearly all business activities.

With IT becoming the glue that binds business innovation and process management, the CIO must be a proficient leader capable of engaging all stakeholders through communication, leadership, and selling. The modern CIO ought to be capable of guiding both technical teams leading product delivery and non-technical teams in charge of business processes. It is a role encompassing the entire organization, else there will be no success. Certainly, this is more than IT but also about efficiency, technical advantage, employee satisfaction, and user experience.

With the changing information and business dynamics, CIOs and top executives must continuously adapt to the changing competitive landscape. They must use the latest tools at their disposal to make workloads easier, grow the business, improve speed and efficiency, and support the company in its transformation journey. It is becoming evident that the CIO is not a role restricted to IT systems but also open-minded to emerging technology and innovation.

2) Important Skill Sets for the CIO's Future

In this section, we look at some of the skill sets that will help the CIO navigate the future. The most important thing is the pace at which things happen today and the CIO has to be prepared. Digital businesses have the potential to expand exponentially using digital platforms and the CIO has to take charge. Customer experience is another battleground for companies, with each company competing to give the best user experience. The CIO must be agile to oversee the creation of products that yield the most business value and customer engagement.

CIOs should have some business training on top of their technical expertise. The role has become pivotal for both business and technology and the CIO must be well-equipped to handle strategy both ways. Such qualifications will be an added advantage in the near future and beyond. It allows them to work in cooperation with business executives, marketing officers, and share ideas with all persons up to the board level. A well-equipped CIO will take charge of the digital transformation process within a business context to impact business value. An organization must focus on more than just solving the technology problems and the CIO must, therefore, foster the necessary relationships in business.

The CIO of the future must be capable of championing a technology strategy that aligns with the overall organizational needs. Since the entire organization needs to be involved, it is critical to have the soft skills necessary to build internal relationships, engage the end-users, and drive business value with technology being the key enabler. The strategy should incorporate a continuous development lifecycle, a key component of business marketing. This would also help clear the path to product delivery with employee engagement. In summary, the skills necessary for future CIO include:

  • Strong leadership and communication skills
  • Differentiate between noise and useful technology
  • Office politics and power play
  • Innovative mindset
  • Comfort with increasingly unclear situations
  • Good working relationships
  • Diplomatic management
  • High self-esteem
  • In-depth understanding of the business environment, competition, and industry

Alibaba Cloud is at the forefront of this innovative phase in the careers of CIOs with a number of leading tools that help get the most out of work. Below are some examples:

2.1 Customer AI Solutions

  • New Search Method: Redefine the search process to increase convenience and results. Based on machine learning, it enables consumers to take a screenshot or upload an image to search and find desired products and fulfill other search requests.
  • Innovative Customer Support: Customers get immediate service when they have questions or concerns. The chatbot provides 24/7 online support and eliminates wait time. The robot can process queries and deliver information in natural language. Users can use domain-specific knowledge bases, configure their own knowledge base for customized smart dialogs, and use Intelligent Service Robot to facilitate self-service through multi-round dialogue.

2.2 Machine Learning Platform for AI

Machine Learning Platform for AI provides end-to-end machine learning services, including data processing, feature engineering, model training, model prediction, and model evaluation. Machine Learning Platform for AI combines all of these services to make AI more accessible than ever.

2.3 Intelligence Brain

Intelligence Brain is Alibaba Cloud's ultra-intelligent AI Platform for solving complex business and social problems. They include:

Intelligent Voice Interaction

  • Speech Recognition
  • Speech Synthesis
  • AI Assistant
  • Smart Customer Service
  • Voice Auditing

Image Recognition

  • Scene Recognition
  • Image Marking
  • Image Diagnosis
  • Image Recognition

Text Recognition

  • Card Identification
  • Document Text Recognition
  • Video Text Recognition
  • Identification

Natural Language Processing

  • Word Segmentation
  • Speech Tagging
  • Translation
  • Recommendation Feeds
  • Product Evaluation
  • Emotional Analysis
  • Entity Recognition

3) Summary

The CIOs of the future should adapt to the rapidly changing business and technology environment. They must be willing to experiment with new tools that help extract meaning from data generated in the business ecosystem. The rise of AI will undoubtedly affect decision-making, strategy, and IT execution. Moving forward, the CIO must work with the executive to oversee business-driven change and automation of slow, manual, error-prone tasks. It is crucial that such key personnel engage and relate with their teams and not act as the sole source of information. In the end, they must ensure the rate of change outside the organization is not faster than what is happening inside, else the company would collapse.


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