The role of CIOs in a data-driven era

May 19, 2017 | Opinion

The recent Raconteur report on the ‘Future CIO’ made great reading.

“Bricks and mortar are being replaced by pixelated inventories. Paper trails are being replaced by email audits” it says – an all too true summary of modern businesses which resonated with me.

Across Rethink, we’re helping clients as they digitalise their business; be they tech savvy entities in desperate need of more skilled developers, or traditional businesses (which the report cruelly calls ‘corporate carcasses’) tackling the tech transition and migrating their business model online.

The report analysed the role of CIOs in making these changes happen – stating that they’re at the ‘beating heart’ of the digital shift. One CIO contributor to the report said it was an ‘exhilarating’ time to do his job; I’ll bet.

Imagine the thrill of pioneering such major revolutionary changes; this is our industrial revolution and CIOs are the ones leading it.

It’s a far cry from the past roles of CIOs who until recent years were relegated to the back office; now they’re at the forefront of their businesses, given license to explore the application of any viable technology.

And there’s so much at their fingertips; AI, robotics, advances in cyber security, but there’s one stumbling block to their success – a lack of people to support them. We’ve still not properly tackled the digital skills shortage, or even scratched the service of the 745,000 digitally skilled workers that the economy needs by 2020. This is where CIOs of businesses need to collaborate with talent professionals like Rethink, as well as Central Government, to ensure that their digital transformation efforts aren’t hindered by a lack of skills.

We also need to look to bring more perfectly able and brilliant women into the tech workforce. Embarrassingly, the report showed that women in top tech cos only account for 18.1% of the headcount, and only 16 of the top 100 CIOs in the UK are female. We’ve got to change this too, and ensure that women are very much included on the journey.

Together we can collaborate and turn our ambitions, the ambitions of CIOs and the thousands of workers ready to join the digital workforce a reality.

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