What is CIO 3.0?

CIO role is not disappearing, rather CIOs are being asked to do a different thing – lead innovation. The new CIO is a business leader. Grounded in technology but an expert in using the disruptive power of technology to drive business innovation – uses technology to create sustainable competitive advantage. This is CIO 3.0.

The CIO role has evolved through three distinct phases. As our thinking on technology has evolved so has the role of the CIO.

CIO 1.0 (“manager of technology”)

First, technology was a utility – used to conduct business. Starting as an “IT Manager” or “Head of IT” or “Electronic Data Processing (EDP) Manager” the CIO role was responsible for installing and maintaining computers – hardware, software, networks. Business uses technology. Technology is a utility. CIO 1.0 keeps the technology humming.

CIO 2.0 (“enabler of business”)

Then, technology evolved to being a competitive asset – used to create competitive advantage. CIO’s responsibility changed from managing computers to making them useful. Now, the expectation of the CIO role is to deploy technology in line with business needs. Second generation CIOs are expected to create an IT strategy, that supports a Business Strategy. Business needs technology. Technology is a strategic asset. Business leads, and the CIO follows closely in sync. CIO 2.0 performs business-IT alignment.

CIO 3.0 (“driver of business”)

The advent of internet left businesses flat footed – who was responsible? Could the CIO 2.0, the technology enabler, deal with this catastrophe? Absolutely not. So, how do we deal with the next wave of disruptive technology – how do we deal with technology innovation whose pace is accelerating at the speed of light? Hello, CIO 3.0.

Increasingly, the CIO’s responsibility is changing from enabling business to driving innovation. The horse is firmly in front of the cart! Technology creates markets. Technology is a competitive weapon. CIO is the “chief innovation officer” or should morph into “chief digital officer.”

CEOs will not admit that they are technology illiterate – it takes a different kind of skill set to get to the top job that “marketing types” have but “technology types” do not. But keeping that chair now requires technology skills. So “technology types” must be co-opted; invited to the inner chamber, treated with respect, and asked to take on the innovation challenge – manage the technology hurricanes that are now going to be the norm. The new CIO is Weather-man. strategist. implementer – par excellence!

At CIO Index, we believe that the new CIO will neither be a Chief Innovation Officer nor a Chief Digital Officer (CDO) because neither moves the ball forward in a meaningful way. The emerging role of the CIO will make them “Chief Executive Officer” of the technology division.

What are the expectations of the CIO 3.0 role?

CIO 3.0 is a technology savvy innovator who anticipates the next disrupting technology coming down the pike which has the potential to demolish an organization. S/he informs, educates, and helps adapt/retool the business to deal with the impending threat. Most importantly, s/he creates new opportunities for business to leverage emerging technologies to create shareholder value.

This is what the new CIO is required to do:

  • Be the Technology Weatherman/Seer: Identify the next disruptive technology in time to take meaningful action
  • Be the Technology Assessor: Assess the damage from this technology to the business before a thing has happened
  • Be the Technology Salesman/Sage: Convince your C-Suite peers on this being the “real” storm
  • Be the Technology Innovator: Identify ways to leverage this new technology to create shareholder value
  • ……..

There is a lot more but this should give you an idea of what the expectations are of the CIO role going forward.

CIO 3.0 role and responsibilities cannot be created in a vacuum. This new CIO will create a new kind of IT capability – IT strategy, IT processes, IT infrastructure and IT organization.

This new IT capability will be supported by a small, agile IT organization – a tiger team of fearless mavericks who thrive on the risk of foraging into uncharted territory, are nimble on their feet like a Ninja, embrace change with the alacrity of a chameleon, and have the skill set of a Swiss army knife. Jedi Masters all, led by Yoda himself.

The airwaves are saturated with talk of the impending changes in the CIO role. Some have dire predictions for the role itself – “the CIO role is history!” they say. Some have implored CIOs to become “chief innovation officers” and lead the technology innovation charge at the enterprise. Some others believe in the “transformative CIO.” No matter which acronym or phrase you choose for the CIO role, the consensus is, that the role is changing in the direction of technology driven business innovation. It is the logical next step in the evolution of this role.

For those CIOs who thought their job was tough, welcome to mission impossible. Dear CIO, you have but one simple choice to make: “lead, follow, or get out of the way.”

Resistance is futile. It is time to embrace this change and figure out what it entails for you.

So, what do I need to become CIO 3.0?

Well, your journey to CIO 3.0 begins right here.

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