by Debarati Roy

CIO Task Force: The Evolving Role of the CIO

Dec 12, 20133 mins
AnalyticsBig DataBudgeting

Shiva Shankar, Group CIO, SPIC, says that CIOs who want to stay relevant to their organizations in 2014 must learn to innovate and collaborate with business more than ever before.

Quite a few articles that I have been reading speak of how disruptive technologies like cloud computing and the advent of shadow IT will put the CIO role out of context. I honestly don’t believe in these speculations.

However I do agree that the CIO role was never at a more critical crossroad as it is today. The economic slowdown has resulted in limited budgets to invest in technology. And business wants to become more competitive, go to market faster and be more agile to adapt to changing customer demands. Which is why, CIOs today are expected to achieve much more with little time and resources in hand. And the irony is that CIOs know that if they fail, the department will just rope-in a third-party service provider and get the job done.

It does sound scary, but looking at the positive side of things, it is in these trying times that the CIO role will be redefined to that of a business enabler and partner from being just a support function. Businesses now look up to CIOs to not just help them save costs and create more efficient processes but also to innovate and enhance the way businesses run.

But to be able to accomplish all this, CIOs have to get out of their black box and become more actively involved across every aspect of business. One way this can be done is getting to know the stakeholders better. And when I say this I don’t mean the usual conversations that a CIO has with a department head inside a boardroom or before a project is about to begin.

Stakeholder engagement means getting to know people, their departments and their job portfolios better. You would be surprised to find how much understanding you can gather by just talking to a colleague over a non-transactional conversation. Once you are willing to give them a patient and active listening, you would find yourself in a better position to help them with the challenges that they face in their lines. It is these collaborative efforts that sometimes lead to the most innovative ideas and solutions to day-to-day business problems.

Thankfully with solutions like big data and analytics, CIOs no longer need to sit and ponder about how they would showcase their value to business. CIOs can now actually enable businesses to take informed and relevant decisions faster, and the result is out there for everyone to see.

The coming year is going to be as tough, maybe more, than the past couple of years have been. I don’t think 2014 is going to present an extremely rosy scenario as far as economic and business realities in this country are concerned. But like it has been in the past, the CIO will sail through and I’m sure I will see a lot of my peers adding so much more value to their organizations in the coming year in every possible way.