CIOs and CTOS Move to the Front of the C-Suite

As company operations become more influenced by technology, the Covid-19 epidemic has boosted the importance of chief information officers.

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By Steve Taplin

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

As company operations become more influenced by technology, the Covid-19 epidemic has boosted the importance of chief information officers (CIOs), hastening a transition from backroom technologists to front-office decision-makers.

CIOs and other corporate IT professionals have found themselves in increased leadership roles over the last year. They play an essential role in the move to remote work, restructuring supply chains, speeding up factory automation and putting shops and restaurants online.

A CIO's role also included making their businesses more secure and resilient, which was put to the test this year more than ever before due to remote working and collaboration technologies, which introduced new security vulnerabilities.

In the first half of 2021, the IT employment market in the United States has gained an average of 13,000 positions per month. It was up from an average of 5,000 to 8,000 jobs per month before, according to Victor Janulaitis, who analyzes Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

Because of the increasing influence that CIOs have over traditionally software-dependent areas like finance, marketing and sales, companies now have bigger budgets, additional executive vice president positions and a seat on the company's board of directors — not to mention higher salaries.

How can companies reorganize their strategies to accommodate the modern roles of CIOs and CTOs?

Rapid digital transformation is the key focus point for modern CIOs and CTOs. This means more automation and migrating systems off old rigid legacy systems to modern, cloud-based architectures. Oftentimes this means consolidating existing systems and integrating data from numerous formats. Once a company moves down this path, it allows for the implementation of AI and machine learning to make them more efficient moving forward.

How should CIOs and CTOs themselves adapt to the changing landscape?

CIOs and CTOs have to reorganize their priorities and use of resources. The number one item for most of them is enhancing the customer experience. This often means integrating systems to the cloud and focusing on UI / UX.

Related: How Women Can Finally Bridge the Gender Gap in the C-Suite

What challenges might the C-level face when adopting these changing approaches?

Large enterprises need to think like startups and fast-growing companies in terms of adapting to change. Sometimes this means "starting over" and going back to the drawing board to re-architect their environment and systems. To overcome internal resistance, some corporate boards are nominating more CIOs and giving them titles such as executive vice president or vice president.

Related: Adapt Your C-Suite for the Digital Era In 3 Steps

Top tips for CIOs and CTOs going into 2022

  • Automation is here to stay
  • Evolve and adapt or become irrelevant
  • Have strong insight to make the case for the "next big thing"
  • Focus on AI, hybrid clouds and sustainability
  • Realize now more than ever, CIOs and CTOs are critical to business strategy and driving business value.

CIOs and CTOs are moving to the front of the C-suite because they are now on more equal levels with CEOs, presidents and vice presidents on strategic decision-making processes. Employers now expect them to have a significant impact on the revenue growth of their companies.

Related: Finding Your Path to the C-Suite: 6 Tips for Women in Business

Steve Taplin

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

CEO of Sonatafy Technology

Steve Taplin is the CEO of Sonatafy Technology (www.sonatafy.com), a premier nearshore software-development-services firm that provides its clients with expertise in cloud solutions, web and mobile applications, ecommerce, big data, DevOps practices, QA, IoT and machine learning.

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