It\u2019s time to rethink the CIO title. Are you responsible for keeping the trains running on time and the lights on, or are you providing the thought leadership and guidance within your own organization to maximize value and business agility?\nMost C-level executives run the risk of doing the perp walk in handcuffs out of the office and ultimately wearing an orange jumpsuit if their subordinates break the rules or screw up \u2013 and while you serve a valuable function, this is not true for the CIO. 2017 needs to be the year where you go from \u201cserving\u201d to \u201cleading.\u201d\nTo earn your keep, you need to show both value and accountability at a minimum. A-grade CIOs identify opportunities to drive business growth \u2013 and A+ ones do it with fewer resources, not more.\nHere are three interrelated strategies to do just that.\n1. Take a hard look at license maintenance. For years, software license maintenance \u2013 the amount companies pay to vendors each year for support, access to bug fixes and patches, and upgrades \u2013 eats up a significant portion of what is perceived as the \u201cfixed\u201d IT spend. It\u2019s time to fix that, and move license maintenance out of that bucket.\nTo determine the best steps to take, you\u2019ll want to look at:\n-\u00a0 How current your application is. If you\u2019re several upgrades behind and have plans to upgrade, you are paying a lot for features and functionality you\u2019re not likely to adopt \u2013 or you\u2019re likely looking at a reimplementation anyway. Vendors don\u2019t want you to know this, but going off support doesn\u2019t mean you can\u2019t reengage down the road (at more attractive terms) if you decide you need the latest and greatest.\n- \u00a0 How often you use support, and how \u201csupportive\u201d it is. If you have internal skill levels that beat the skills of the call centers you\u2019re contacting with questions, or have found poor resolution rates, third-party support may offer significant savings while improving issue resolution.\n-\u00a0 What third-party support is available. Organizations such as Rimini Street are providing support as a service and we\u2019ve found they deliver better results than many traditional license maintenance support operations.\n2. Go cloud. If you haven\u2019t moved at least 15% of your IT operations to the cloud, now\u2019s the time to start. With our data showing that cloud delivers 2.1 times more ROI than on-premise applications, even a small shift can deliver significant value (plus tax advantages, surely to be appreciated by the CFO). This doesn\u2019t have to be a big-bang approach to digital transformation \u2013 many firms have found savings on license maintenance, for example, can help them innovate on the edges in areas like CRM, general ledger reconciliation, analytics, and cloud ERP (with a hub-and-spoke approach) while honing their cloud chops. We\u2019ve also found that companies that invest in cloud end up spending an average of 20 percent less on security technologies than those who don\u2019t \u2013 freeing up funds from their infrastructure budget that can be better applied elsewhere.\nIf you\u2019re already well on your way to a cloud footprint, that doesn\u2019t mean you\u2019ve accomplished your goals. The advantages of cloud for flexibility and agility are great for the citizen developer \u2013 but so are the possibilities for rogues, fiefdoms, and governance challenges. Having a clear picture of your cloud footprint and the value you\u2019re getting from your subscription sets the right tone for a broader conversation about governance and business cases.\n3. Rethink your security spending. Although several high-profile security breaches and hacking events made headlines in 2016, that doesn\u2019t mean continuing to pour budget into security is necessarily the best way to secure your business. Taking a measured (read: ROI-focused) approach to security spend, having a conversation with those responsible for your corporate insurance, and understanding the expected cost of a security-related loss the way they see it can help you identify where you may be overspending.\n2017 is the year for CIOs to change perceptions; IT isn\u2019t a utility, and you aren\u2019t a utility player. Adhering to these strategies will go a long way toward elevating your role to strategic leader.