21st-century enterprise is service-oriented, outcome-based, and offer a unified and end-to-end experience. It’s no surprise then that CIOs are the fastest addition to the boards of modern enterprises that rely on digital to achieve these goals. As businesses and IT are increasingly converging, CIOs take upon highly business-focused roles in collaboration with business units. A Gartner Survey of over 3000 CIOs globally confirms, 84 percent have business responsibilities beyond the traditional IT.

CIOs are tapped to lead innovation, leverage digital transformation technologies, and attain a broader set of diverse business objectives. It is no surprise then that 95% of CIOs expect their roles to be drastically changed due to the impact of digitalization. This includes greater responsibilities and capabilities to make the business more agile and dynamic.

A modern CIO wears several hats to create value in the digital age, from strategic leadership in support of business goals to fostering core product innovation through technology. Here are the key roles and responsibilities that every CIO needs to focus on in a 21st-century enterprise.

Lead the Digital Agenda

The 21st-century enterprise CIO also needs to be the chief innovation officer and monetize technology. Exploring new innovation capabilities by leveraging smart digital transformation technologies and rapid experimentation, could close the existing gap between strategy and execution. Orchestrating people, tools, processes, infrastructure, full security stack, and compliance into a comprehensive business tech strategy can boost productivity and growth.  CIOs need to constantly find ways to lead the digital agenda by constantly developing their cross-domain expertise.

Prioritizing Information Security

With cybersecurity continuing to be the primary IT challenge, information security is as much a priority for the CEO and CIO, as it is for the CISO. Gartner predicts that by 2022, cybersecurity ratings will be as important as credit ratings. Security is no longer simply an IT concern but essentially a business concern, with a perception component that needs to be driven by the CIO. Protecting valuable data with smarter and efficient technology is a core competency but just as important is communicating these upgrades to foster greater confidence.

People-centric Approach

It is an obvious truth that providing excellent customer experiences drives growth and success for an organization. However, what needs to be acknowledged is that there is a significant human element of teamwork behind this focus. Human capital is at the core of enterprises. Mentoring actively is an essential part of effectively leading teams as it helps build healthy working relationships and fosters higher productivity. As Gartner suggests, CIOs must move away from the culture of control to one of influence. Empathy, openness, and flexibility pave way for trust, respect and an impactful model of 21st-century leadership, facilitating a people-centric work environment. 

Digital transformation will continue to dominate business strategy in the near to mid future, from IT delivery to integrating business. And CIOs will more often than not find themselves constantly reshaping their roles as strategic partners. The successful ones will be those who engage more holistically with the business goals of their organizations and further their own capabilities as leaders, innovators, and decision makers to meet the demands of the 21st-century enterprises.