Following a decade shaped by digital transformation, every organisation has, to some degree, felt the impact of technological evolution. Inextricably linked with all industries, most companies today have either undergone an infrastructural overhaul or are in the process of giving their business the digital facelift it needs to compete effectively.

Naturally, as the business landscape has changed and the workplace with it, so too have the roles of those leading the charge. As digital became the new normal, it inspired a metamorphosis on how we think about technology and the role of the Chief Information Officer.

Just a few years ago, when the idea of digital transformation was emerging in the market, questions were asked about the role of the CIO in relation to the Chief Digital Officer (CDO) – how their two roles would interact; where one’s remit would begin, and the others would end and whether the CIO would ultimately be replaced by the CDO altogether.

With the lines blurred between both roles, the representation of CIOs at board-level began to fall. Despite the biggest spike in IT budgets for 15 years in light of new developments in data analytics, AI and cybersecurity, the number of CIOs sitting on the board has dropped from 71 per cent to 58 per cent in only 2 years. This is according to the 2019 Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO survey, whose research interestingly revealed a small increase in the level of influence CIOs felt they had in business (66 per cent) compared with last year (65 per cent).


During an era characterised by the convergence of technology across every business function and industry, extinction is certainly not on the cards for the role of the CIO. In the early 2000s, tech professionals joked that their title was an acronym for ‘Career is Over’ – we know today, of course, that this is not the case. Yet, their position in business is shifting once more to mirror the increase in technology’s strategic importance in commercial success.

They may sit on fewer boards, but today’s CIO plays a critical role in enabling members of the C-suite to achieve their vision – not just by bolstering operational efficiency through the adoption of digital technology and cloud migration but by actively setting the agenda for the future of the organisation.

While troubleshooting may still fall within their remit, CIOs are rightfully assuming their place in today’s fast-paced business environment not simply as someone who maintains systems to a high standard, but as key contributors of the wider business strategy.

As the emergence of analytical technologies, business intelligence tools and mobile devices gains momentum, the C-suite now can take advantage of vast pools of structured and unstructured data to draw deeper insights and make better decisions much faster than ever before.

This is where the CIO reclaims their status as invaluable. Not only will organisations turn to them to detail a vision for extracting this insight and turning it into a competitive edge, they will rely on the CIO to strengthen new points of vulnerability brought on by the adoption of AI, BYOD, 5G and IoT. Where digital transformation once seemed to threaten the role of CIO, today’s truth is that they are fundamental in future-proofing all business functions.

About Sam Wallace

Based in California, Sam leads our Technology Practice specialized in Director to VP level roles. With over 20 years of experience in Europe, Canada and the US, she understands how to solve her technology clients’ talent needs in an increasingly demanding market.

Is your organisation undertaking a digital facelift? Find out how Sam and Carmichael Fisher can help by contacting her directly here. 

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