It’s been a turbulent few years for CIOs. Even before the novel coronavirus pandemic, CIOs were underway with substantial business transformation efforts. Yet, as we covered in stories such as Digital Transformation: Measuring What Matters and Digital Transformation: Coming from Behind, the vast majority of enterprises failed to meet their digital transformation objectives.

Then came the previous two years, first with the novel coronavirus pandemic, associated financial disruptions, the rush to remote work, supply chain disruptions and substantial inflation, and the “great resignation.”

As a result, the role of the CIO has shifted from one of an enterprise technology focus to include business model transformation, corporate strategy and even sustainability, according to a recently released study from computing electronics provider Lenovo.

The survey found that just over 80% of CIOs believe that their job has become more difficult than two years ago, and that they confront numerous challenges, including increased use of AI and automation to finding the talent they need in a global and remote workforce.

Furthermore, the survey found that about 90% of respondents said that their job roles and responsibilities now move well beyond enterprise technology into other areas, such as data analytics and business reporting (56%), sustainability/environmental, social and governance (45%), diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives (42%), HR/talent acquisition (39%) and sales/marketing (32%).

While CIO responsibilities may be expanding beyond enterprise technology, they certainly have their work cut out for them when it comes to technology-related challenges. The survey found that CIOs find the most difficult challenges to be 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%).

Following tremendous investments in digital transformation and the role technology played for organizations trying to navigate the tough pandemic business conditions, CIOs squarely believe that their impact on business success grew. That’s with roughly 75% saying that they have a greater impact on their company’s overall fortunes than other C-suite positions.

Furthermore, 88% of respondents agreed that their “role as CIO is the most critical component of my company or organization’s continued operation.”

Finally, as their role grew, CIOs said that their IT vendors play a central role in their overall success. Respondents said:

  • Their 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.
  • Looking ahead, CIOs expect to turn to their vendors to help them solve myriad problems in the next five years, including increasing their organizational agility (60%) and providing security for their company’s systems and operations (52%), as well as to simplify the configuration, deployment and maintenance of technology (50%), and optimize costs (43%).
  • 8-in-10 CIOs agree their tech vendors are “so effectively integrated that it increases [their] overall productivity.”

Finally, while CIOs view their IT vendors as a source of help, most view their current technology stack as a hindrance. If they had the chance to toss their existing technology stack aside and start over, 57% said they would replace their current technology by at least half.

The Lenovo study was conducted in December 2021, and consisted of responses from 525 CIOs from Brazil, China, Japan, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the United States. CIOs surveyed worked at organizations with 250 or more total employees.