As technology has become an integral part of business success, the role of the Chief Information Officer (CIO) is now critical in the C-suite. But what do teams expect of their CIO? Here are 5 skills every CIO needs: 

1.  Ability to support business goals

Traditionally CIOs oversaw the operations of the Information Technology (IT) team and were held responsible for the implementation of strategies handed to them. Nowadays, with business objectives no longer existing in isolation from IT, CIOs are expected to demonstrate how IT can shape business goals.

Every CIO role involves managing technology – operations, architecture, vendors, compliance, and risk. By also adopting strategic planning, CIOs can leverage IT knowledge and drive competition and new revenues. It’s not enough for a CIO to understand an organisation’s mission anymore, they require the skills to develop and execute a strategy that supports that pursuit. CIOs need to be able to assess the state of technology – whether the organisation is nursing disparate legacy systems or has adopted new technologies – and ensure that investments in technology are future-friendly and will bring value to the business.


2.  Ability to analyse

CIOs also need to be able to predict technological problems before they occur and forecast possible market failures. But rather than crystal-balling what lies ahead, this requires CIOs to have strong skills as analysts. Today’s CIOs need to be able to measure and monitor metrics and demonstrate the significance of their proposed IT projects and services.

By setting up workplace systems to capture information and data, CIOs can identify trends, inefficiencies and actionable insights to help deliver better products and services. Using the information gained about market movements, operational efficiency and costs, CIOs can isolate organisational strengths and weaknesses and help put plans in place to improve productivity.


3.  Ability to innovate

To help organisations achieve long-term business success CIOs must have confidence in their ability to drive transformation. This means CIOs should be comfortable with disruption, be bold in their thinking, and willing to roll up their sleeves to innovate. It’s too little to simply measure data to identify improvement opportunities. CIOs must be able to make concrete changes – like executing faster and cheaper operations – while also selling the idea of why change is required. It’s essential for CIOs to prove the strategic importance of IT when it comes to customer experience, operational processes and business models. There is a real opportunity for CIOs to be out in front helping their organisation lead the innovation agenda.

According to the Digital Maturity measure, CIOs can expect to gain their organisation a financial advantage by embracing digital transformation. Unfortunately, data from Deloitte’s CIO Program Transition Lab sessions shows many CIOs face a significant gap between their current and desired state of innovation capabilities. This can make digital transformation unattainable.




4.   Ability to build strong relationships

A CIO’s role is no longer just about technology, it’s increasingly become about building relationships with human beings. Effective communication skills are now crucial for a CIO role that is expected to lead the IT team and liaise with an executive team who may not be tech-savvy. Other vital skills include managing internal stakeholders, forming business partnerships and potentially managing customer expectations. Wise CIOs now put soft skills on their priority list, along with technical know-how. Soft skills are essential for collaboration, negotiation, team building, organisational development, vendor management and business transformation.

Internally, CIOs have to be able to articulate why decisions are made both from a technology and business viewpoint. The ability to make technical language easily digestible ensures clarity of purpose and helps breed a culture of transparency and partnership. To oversee the most effective IT improvements and to achieve hard-hitting business results, CIOs must sharpen their people skills. Honing relationship skills helps build trust, to effectively drive innovation and execute new ideas through organisation-wide buy-in. The most effective CIOs recognise the importance of teamwork – and not just within the IT department.  


5.  Ability to manage finances

CIOs must be able to connect technology investments to business outcomes. They need to seek ways to lower operating costs while driving growth. This means being involved in the decision-making on where an organisation will spend its money. CIOs can influence the bottom-line by creating value for the business – whether that’s through investing in cheaper storage, utilising cloud platforms or using smart outsourcing strategies.

According to Deloitte Insights, optimising IT investments has become a top priority for CIOs – and their stakeholders – as their mandate has shifted from value preservation to value creation. The report adds that CIOs need to rethink budget allocations and that adopting cloud and embracing Agile and DevOps is not a choice – it’s a requirement. CIOs are required to shift focus and resources so business and technology are aligned, without foregoing reliability, security or feasibility. 

With technology rapidly changing, CIOs are also expected to have one eye firmly fixed on the future to ensure that the right types of investments are made on emerging technologies. According to the Tech Trends 2019 report, the factory of the future needs to bring together a variety of technologies to manage workflows across the supply chain. These include next-gen Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), machine learning, embedded sensors, augmented reality training, mobile visualisation, predictive flow scheduling, secure networks, and cloud-based tool. CIOs are obliged to be ready for the challenges and opportunities these technology trends will bring.


How to gain the skills of a CIO?

Deakin University’s Master of IT Leadership gives IT professionals the skills to translate technology solutions into business acumen. Now that technology is entwined in every facet of business, this degree will help aspiring CIOs cross the technology-business chasm.

Learn more about the online Master of IT Leadership, our innovative Professional Practice degree where you can use your experience to gain a master’s degree. Call our enrolment team on 1300 043 524.