It’s vital to know what’s important to your superiors, whether you’re an employee who reports to the Chief Information Officer or a CIO yourself reporting to the ultimate boss, the CEO. And in a world rapidly evolving through digital transformation, you can bet changing technologies, from unified communications and collaboration (UCC) to Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled devices, are top priority.
As a CIO myself, people often ask me, “What keeps CIOs up at night?” It’s almost more accurate to say, "What's not keeping us up at night?" Today’s reality is that there’s a long list of issues and challenges that we deal with on a daily basis.
But before even we get there, I think we should look at how the role of the CIO has been evolving in the past 20 or so years, in terms of our day-to-day responsibilities and functional roles.
Let's get back to the 1990s. In the '90s, the CIO played really a functional role in his or her business – manage the back office, order and set up the PCs, get the servers working, make sure users are connected. And the responsibilities of the CIO were really limited to that functional type of role.
With the turn of century, the CIO took on a more advisory role in the business. If there was a project or program, we would be called into the room and asked, "What do you think the system, hardware and software minimum requirements will be for this?"
Data centers were a big part of it. They were costly and challenging to manage. Not only did we worry about our infrastructure within the data center, but we also had to be worried about the AC power, the cooling, electrical and so on. Networks were always a headache but, with the advancement of technology and how accessible bandwidth is and how cheap is bandwidth these days, it is really not the major worry that it was 10 or 15 years ago.
Last but not least, security has always been a top concern and continues to be today. But while security has a well-established spot as an IT priority yesterday, today and tomorrow, the types of threats to security IT professionals fight have significantly evolved along with digital transformation. We used to deal with a DOS attack that, at most, would just cripple your network and slow down your operation. Now, we're dealing with cyber security, which is a lot more complex and a lot more challenging to deal with.
Back then, these functional problems kept us up at night. Today, we are absolutely strategic, focused on how to adapt to digital transformation and stay ahead of the curve (and our competitors) when it comes to our technology.
So how does this change in technology and change in our role actually impact the CIO’s priorities today? What are our top three priorities?
1. Digital transformation…
Digital transformation is shaking up what it really means to be a CIO. You must understand your legacy systems and your processes to have a strategic view and to be a leader in the digital transformation journey in your organization. Cloud storage and cloud computing have alleviated many data center and network concerns we once had. The impact of mobile devices and shadow IT have made additional wrinkles in our jobs.
2. …and its impact on customer experience
Digital transformation has not just affected the technology businesses use to communicate – it’s completely changed the way we as consumers interact with one another and the companies we do business with. We're in a digital marketplace and everything has to be fast, mobile, quick, high-quality, anywhere, any device. Today’s CIO must look at the new standards for a differentiated customer experience, understand the technology requirements to meet those standards and choose the right systems and integrations to execute on the company’s customer experience strategy from a technology standpoint.
3. Last but never least: security
Cyber security is a major priority for today’s CIO and, as security threats evolve, IT leadership must also adapt to new challenges. The recent WannaCry ransomware attack that hugely impacted operations of different organizations in over 150 countries is just one example of why this will always be a priority for CIOs.
And, while there’s much ado about digital transformation today, it’s interesting to reflect on the three different waves of technology we’ve experienced – and IT professionals have had to adapt to – since the late 1980s. It started with the internet. After we became connected online, surfing the web and communicating with email, we moved forward to IoT and giving machines a voice, which has significantly impacted the consumerization and digitization of our work.
Now, CIOs are looking at present and future challenges and opportunities that come with giving machines a voice, new advancements in unified communications and collaboration and the evolution from IoT to IoE (a.k.a, the Internet of Everything).
As an employee or CIO yourself, you may be wondering how to navigate all these changes. Mitel has created The CIO’s Playbook to help you make forward-thinking decisions that will positively impact your business.
Sometimes people ask me, "So, when does it stop, this digital transformation?" It never stops. Because it's about constant change and constant improvement.