Why Chief Innovation Officers need to keep up

The past decade of business IT has been characterised by constant change. From consumerisation to cloud, CIOs have had to contend with a range of new trends and challenges. The next decade will be characterised by more change. In fact, the pace of transformation will only quicken.

Analyst Gartner’s Hype Cycle of Emerging Technologies shows the kinds of developments that will impact the business. Some technologies, such as the internet of things and advanced analytics, are being considered. Other tools, like artificial intelligence and quantum computing, are less clearly understood.

What is clear, however, is that CIOs must help their organisations cope with technology-led change. Gartner says IT leaders must focus their attention on innovation now. The analyst refers to a new era of digital humanism, where people are central to the adoption and use of new technology in the workplace.

This trend is also recognised by BCS. Our research shows 58 per cent of digital leaders believe transformation is one of their organisation’s top three management issues for 2016. These leaders believe enhanced skills are crucial to controlling change. It is people that drive change, rather than technology.

CIOs must develop both the soft and the technical skills of their IT staff. Workers with a subtle mix of capabilities will excel in the new era of digital humanism. That delicate mix also applies to CIOs themselves. Traditional IT directors who stay confined to the data centre and fail to develop will become obsolete.

The appointment of chief digital officers, and the rising influence of chief marketing officers over IT spend, means CIOs must prove their value to the business time and again. CIOs must spend time learning about new technologies and engaging with the business to develop innovative solutions to challenges.

IT leaders can survive and thrive by staying open to new ideas. Just as learning and development are crucial to IT professionals, so senior technology executives must continue to acquire knowledge and skills.