The Top Line Interview: Betsy Burton

A distinguished analyst at Gartner fast-forwards to the future of the CIO

Your future CIO holds finance and economics degrees, focuses on people and policies but also on ethical and moral concepts at work—and starts her day at 5 a.m. Do you know anyone like that today?

No CIOs are there yet. Even now we know it's critically important that CIOs have a wholistic picture of the business, but this is still emerging. In 2028, it will be a given.

At that time, the general skills of the average worker will include a large amount of technology experience. Our children's children will laugh at us for having segmented business and IT.

This 2028 CIO uses collaborative technologies to hold global meetings and eats dinner with physical and holographic family members. Is the CIO now driving that kind of shift inside companies or playing catch-up with more tech-savvy employees?

Even in 2028, it will be a push and a pull. Users will still be pulling some of the tech they need.

Eventually, the role of CIO will really be in bridging people, process and information to recognize changing business patterns and respond. But it will no longer be necessary for the CIO to have deep tech expertise.

How do other career paths develop below the CIO level? Will more-technical specialties matter more?

Yes. Today, already, what I'm seeing is enterprise architects are increasingly needing to have skills that I consider soft: communications, facilitation, leadership, collaboration.

The best ones have some technology expertise but also more business-savvy. It will be the same with project managers, business analysts and BI people.

Contact Senior Editor Kim S. Nash at knash@cio.com.

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