Chief Content Officer,
Techstrong Group

A survey of 1,000 technology leaders conducted by Logicalis, a provider of IT services, suggests the role of the CIO has significantly expanded as organizations continue to launch multiple digital business transformation initiatives.

More than three quarters of the survey respondents (77%) said that despite an uncertain economy, their organization continues to invest in digital business transformation initiatives. Well over half the CIOs surveyed (57%) said that building and operating new digital platforms is a core part of their job.

A full 81% of CIOs are spending more time on innovation compared to a year ago with nearly half (46%) reporting that innovation is part of how their job performance is measured. A total of 81% of CIOs said they saw a ‘significant increase’ in the amount of time they spend on strategic planning in 2022, while 80% noted that business strategy will become a bigger part of their role over the next two years.

This shift stands in sharp contrast to a few years ago when many CIOs were being sidelined by individual departments that had taken the lead in digital transformation. Many of those departments had their own IT teams though which they launched various initiatives. However, as more organizations realize the degree to which digital business transformation initiatives to succeed needs to span multiple business processes, they are relying more on CIOs to spearhead these efforts.

The scope of the job now goes well beyond simply keeping the lights on and costs down, said Logicalis CEO Bob Bailkoski. “Many of these CIOs now report directly to the CEO,” he notes.

As that transition continues to occur priorities are also changing. More than three quarters of CIOs (79%) are increasing spending on customer and employee experiences. More than half (53%) expect to adopt new technologies to enhance the employee experience, with better connectivity (48%) and guaranteed security for remote workers (45%) topping the priority list. More than half of CIOs (52%) are increasing spending on risk management.

Nearly 80% also expect to see increased investment in agile development methodologies in 2023, with 44% noting that a key priority this year is using agile to help balance legacy IT with innovation in digital platforms and services.

A full 92% said they are confident that their investment in digital services will make the business more resilient.

A big part of that strategy appears to also involve relying more on external service providers. Well over half of respondents (57%) said they would work with a managed service provider (MSP) to boost digital platform capability. Half of respondents said the right MSP can help to free up resources so that CIOs can focus on core strategic priorities. A total of 41% said that an MSP can provide better access to skills (41%) and improved visibility of cost and performance (35%). A third of CIOs already work with MSPs to deliver digital services, and nearly three quarters (74%) expect to increase spending on outsourced IT and managed services in the year ahead. “There’s still a skills gap,” notes Bailkoski.

It’s apparent, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, that what it takes to be a successful IT leader has changed considerably in the last few years. Digital transformation, however, is only in its infancy, so chances are good that the current generation of IT leaders will be a lot more savvy about the businesses they serve than many of them were a few short years ago.