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CIOs to drive digital transformation and connect stakeholders

By Catherine Knowles
Fri 22 Apr 2022

A new global research study from Lenovo reveals how the CIO role has evolved, shedding light on growing areas of responsibility and increasing influence in the C-Suite, as well as removing barriers to business growth.

Today, technology is the nervous system that connects corporate strategy, finance, innovation, operations and talent, Lenovo states.

CIOs are increasingly tasked with connecting with key stakeholders across the organisation to ensure alignment and drive execution.

With IT enmeshed in every facet of a business, CIOs believe that their organisations must continue to invest in digital transformation to remain relevant.

Key findings from Lenovo's global survey of more than 500 CIOs includes the following:

Nearly all CIOs surveyed believe their roles have evolved and expanded in the past few years, and that they are being asked to make business decisions that go far beyond technology.

9-in-10 CIOs say that their role and responsibilities have expanded beyond technology, including non-traditional areas such as data analytics and business reporting (56%), sustainability/ESG (45%), DE&I (42%), HR/talent acquisition (39%) and sales/marketing (32%).

82% say the CIO role has become more challenging compared with just two years ago as they are confronting a vast array of unique challenges, from the increasing use of AI and automation to talent acquisition in a global, remote workforce.

The study states that CIOs find it most difficult to solve challenges related to data privacy/security (66%), cybersecurity/ransomware (66%), keeping up with technological change (65%), managing fragmented IT vendor ecosystems (61%) and adopting/deploying new technology (60%).

The majority of CIOs believe their role in the organisation has increased in influence. More than 3-in-4 CIOs say they have a greater impact on their company's overall fortunes than other C-Suite positions. 88% agree that "my role as CIO is the most critical component of my company or organisation's continued operation."

As the CIO role expands and evolves, respondents say that their technology vendors play an invaluable role in their company's overall success.

Business would feel an impact in no more than a few weeks if they halted spending on digital transformation initiatives, according to 61% of respondents. This speaks to technology's role as a critical component of the business, not just a source of cost efficiencies, Lenovo states.

Looking ahead, CIOs expect to turn to their vendors to help them solve a myriad problems in the next five years, including increasing their organisational agility (60%) and providing security of their company's systems and operations (52%), as well as to simplify the configuration, deployment and maintenance of technology (50%), and optimise costs (43%).

8-in-10 CIOs agree their tech vendors are "so effectively integrated that it increases [their] overall productivity".

Considering their new challenges and evolving responsibilities, CIOs suggest their current tech stack has much room for improvement. Given the chance to reboot from scratch, most CIOs (57%) say they would replace half or more of their company's current technology.

Compared to the previous year, 63% of companies are using more Device-as-a-Service in their tech stack.

Finally, Lenovo finds that as business models change, nearly all CIOs (92%) would definitely or probably consider adding new aaS offerings over the next two years.

Lenovo solutions and services group president Ken Wong says, "Modern CIOs are the 'mission control' for their organisations, their role has transformed drastically in just the span of the past 24 months.

"From navigating complex tech ecosystems to keep up with the speed of digital transformation, to upskilling employees and managing a global shortage of IT talent, today's CIO is responsible for the entire technology value chain and beyond. Lenovo's research demonstrates CIOs are up for the challenge. And they are looking to partner with their vendors to bring their organisations along and succeed."

Research firm IDC estimates that by 2023, 60% of CIOs at companies world-wide will be primarily measured for their ability to cocreate new business models and revenue streams, chiefly through enterprise-wide collaboration.

Lenovo's research shows that this may be an uphill battle for CIOs, who have identified areas such as data privacy/security, cybersecurity/ransomware and managing a fragmented IT vendor ecosystem as their most challenging concerns.

Wong adds, "In this complex technological environment, CIOs want to innovate, not manage IT. As Lenovo's research highlights, CIOs look to their technology vendors beyond just delivering the basics well namely, increase organisational agility, simplify configuration, and optimise costs.

"IT leaders also need counsel and guidance on how emerging technology can enhance their business goals. The opportunities for technology to add real business value right across the enterprise are immense."

To manage an increasingly complex digital transformation journey, businesses need simple and flexible IT solutions, Lenovo states.

Businesses of all sizes need the flexibility to stay competitive, and a scalable, cloud-like solution model is the answer, according to the company.

Industry forecasts by Technology Business Research indicate that Device Subscription Services are growing at a CAGR of 26% from 2020 to 2024 and data centre subscription services are growing at 42% during the same period.

As-a-Service solutions provide mission-critical support and services, enabling businesses to use technology to scale quickly, lower costs and reap greater efficiencies.

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