Will future CIOs become either service brokers or chief digital officers?

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CIOs who are aspiring to new levels in the C-Suite need to understand more than computing. In fact some talk about a new role for technologists — the Technology Business Manager (TBM) as  becoming a bridge between IT and line of business.

I asked Steven Hall, partner, global A&D lead for Information Services Group, about his experience working with C-Suite executives and how CIOs can transition to wider sets of responsibility in the enterprise. In particular, what skills do you see as necessary to progress from CIO to CEO, CFO, CTO, or other position?

Hall explained, “In today's fast-paced markets, speed is king. CIOs are too often caught in the perfection trap, trying to makes things perfect before capabilities are released. Compliance, security, slow procurement processes, and the need for detailed requirements all conspire to slow down projects.

Over 60 percent of today's CIOs understand their growth and career is directly related to their ability to meet fast-changing requirements. That means focusing on agile and DevOps and acquiring prioritization skills. Effective CIOs understand what great CEOs understand, you can't do everything, so do the right things better and faster than your competitors.

Technology Business Management (TBM) is a concept that's gaining traction. TBM gives technology leaders and their business partners tools to benchmark and collaborate on business decisions.

The CIO role is evolving and will look very different over the next several years. We (ISG) believe the traditional CIO role will merge into one of two roles.

  1. Service Broker: CIOs with a strong operational bent will move into a COO type role as they lead Global Business Services (GBS) organizations that leverage outsourcing, cloud services, shared services, and other delivery models. The Service Broker model will provide great opportunities for IT Leaders to become broader business leaders as technology continues to impact all areas of the enterprise.
  2. Chief Digital Officer: Leading the enterprise through all the changes introduced by digitization will be a major challenge for CIOs and CMOs. These new leaders have a deep understanding of the business, but more importantly, strive to create new revenue streams based on data and digitized products unique to their business. CDOs will be the visionary, technology leaders of tomorrow. Many pundits are ready to hand this role over to the Chief Marketing Officer, but the effective CIO understands the need for rapid deployment of relevant technology, marketing, and business acumen to deliver these products and offerings.”
Scott Koegler practiced IT as a CIO for 15 years. He also has more than 20 years experience as a technology journalist covering topics ranging from software and services through business strategy.