CIO’s Role Explained

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By Eddy Ang

The CIO role has undergone a seismic shift. No longer relegated to just “keeping the lights on,” today’s CIO is now synonymous with “key decision maker”, in charge of many parts of the business, wielding massive influence within the C-suite and boards. 
As glorious as that sounds, reality often means their attention is pulled in multiple directions. CEOs want them to generate new revenue-generating ideas with technology. Customer servicing teams depend on them to come up with the next groundbreaking AI chatbot. Procurement’s wondering why it’s taking so long to shift back-end data from legacy infrastructure to new cloud systems. Hackers are coming up with creative ways to circumvent the defenses CIOs have erected.

Taking up the steering wheel

CIOs are cognizant of this change. The majority (88 per cent) believe their role is the most critical component of their organization’s continued operation, and 77 per cent believe their performance is more important to the success of their organization than the work of other C-suite roles, according to Lenovo’s global CIO study
In fact, nine in 10 report that their roles and responsibilities have expanded beyond managing technology. Areas now under their purview include ESG, diversity, equity and inclusion, HR and talent acquisition, and even sales and marketing.
The promotion of the CIO to mission control was well underway even pre-COVID. Digital disruption relentless march was already keeping businesses on their toes, and enterprises scrambled to adopt new technologies in a bid to keep ahead. By extension, CIOs were called upon to lead on innovation to hone their organization’s competitive edge, and uplift the customer and employee experiences. 
The rise of remote work during the pandemic simply accelerated this transformation: 82 per cent say the CIO role has become more challenging compared to two years ago as they confront a vast array of unique challenges, from the increasing use of AI and automation to talent acquisition in a global, remote workforce. Common challenges include data privacy/security (66 per cent), cybersecurity/ransomware (66 per cent), keeping up with technological change (65 per cent), managing fragmented IT vendor ecosystems (61 per cent) and adopting/deploying new technology (60 percent).
As a result, CIOs are under intense pressure to perform and deliver results according to hard-hitting business metrics, like creating new business opportunities and revenue streams. 

The CIO GPS: Everything-as-a-Service 

To navigate these challenges and discharge their new responsibilities well, CIOs must equip themselves and ensure their tech stack is set up for success from the get go. Most businesses today operate in a complex technological environment, and find themselves having to pivot quickly in reaction to external forces.
The “as-a-service” model of delivery for IT hardware, software and services offers companies of all sizes the ultimate flexibility to stay competitive amidst this challenging backdrop. With a scalable, cloud-like consumption model and predictable payment options for hardware and service inclusions, “as-a-service” is designed to free in-house teams from handling routine and tedious IT processes and infrastructure maintenance. 
This enables them to focus on creating higher value business initiatives. Simply put, CIOs can spend their time innovating, not managing IT.
These benefits are so critical that CIOs are willing to go to great lengths to gain that efficiency. In fact, 61 percent of CIOs say that their business would feel an impact in no more than a few weeks if they halted spending on digital transformation initiatives. Having the right devices and systems in place will support CIOs in ensuring that technology’s role remains a critical component of the business. CIOs can consider Lenovo’s ThinkCentre desktops, engineered for enterprise productivity, innovations. Having a desktop such as Lenovo’s ThinkCentre M70t Gen 3 (Intel) desktop tower that is built on Intel vPro® Platform with 12th Gen Intel® Core™ i9 processor helps organizations flexibly adapt and expand to meet users’ demands without compromising security.
Given the chance to reboot from scratch, most (57 per cent) say they would replace half or more of their company’s current technology. Nearly all (92 per cent) would consider adding new as-a-service offerings over the next two years. 
Industry forecasts corroborate this shift. Technology Business Research indicates that Device Subscription Services are growing at a CAGR of 26 per cent from 2020 to 2024 and data center subscription services are growing at 42 per cent during the same period. Compared to the previous year, 63 per cent of companies are using more Device-as-a-Service in their tech stack.

Co-driver support 

Pulled in multiple directions across multiple priorities, CIOs have the daunting task of keeping up with the pace of technology while addressing their company’s business needs. Motivated to improve organizational agility and system security, CIOs expect to pull vendors into the ring to help move their companies toward greater efficiency. 
At Lenovo, we recognize the opportunities and challenges CIOs face and look to support them on this journey as they continue to take on more responsibilities across the full technology value chain. Lenovo’s broad portfolio of solutions empower CIOs with the flexibility to scale and invest in new technology solutions as they need them. Lenovo TruScale, an Everything-as-a-Service offering optimizes purchasing, deployment and management of infrastructure, hardware, and licensing, from the pocket to the cloud via a single contract and one point of contact for maximum agility. As a result, CIOs can stay ahead of the demands of their businesses.
As any good driver knows, success follows the ability to react agilely to unforeseen challenges on the road, without worrying about whether the brakes are working or if the tank is full. Companies best positioned to achieve success will engage strong technology partners who can be their co-drivers in scaling and future-proofing the business for years to come.

About the author: Eddie Ang is Executive Director, General Manager of Corporate and Public Sector Business at Lenovo in Asia Pacific.This is an opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of this publication.

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