MIT Sloan CIO Symposium preview: Why CIOs must up their game as change agents

Bracing for a future that involves AI and ever-increasing data sets, CIOs face great cultural challenges
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A smart enterprise by today’s standards encompasses many things: It’s driven by data, powered by technology like AI and machine learning, and culturally transformed to prioritize speed and innovation, among other qualities. But “Leading a Smarter Enterprise,” the theme of the upcoming MIT Sloan CIO Symposium, requires one very important ingredient – a smarter CIO.

“Smarter CIOs lead by stepping outside the confines of the traditional organizational chart and, along with their fellow business executives, they look externally and use technologies and associated information to create organizations that are deeply engaged with customers and other stakeholders,” says Lindsey Anderson, chair of the event, taking place on May 22, 2019.

It’s not just about piloting insightful technologies and aligning technology with the business, says Anderson. Those are table stakes. Smarter CIOs are looking to the future and asking, how do we scale these technologies, and how do we co-evolve with customers and partners in order to continually improve?

CIO as cultural change guide

One way, says Anderson, is by acting as the organization’s cultural change agent.

“’Cultural change agent’ is not a new role for CIOs,” he explains. “Ever since CIOs have evolved from order takers to strategic business partners, change agent has been one of their responsibilities. But now, insightful technologies and the data they generate require CIOs to up their game as change agents. This cultural shift requires a whole new managerial mindset.”

If the agenda for the MIT Sloan CIO Symposium is any indication, CIOs are feeling increased pressure in this regard. The agenda was crowdsourced by the CIOs and senior IT executives who make up the audience, Anderson notes. Their top session picks include “Co-evolving is the future of IT strategy,” “Crafting data strategies that pay off,” “Future-proofing the workforce for digital,” and “How big companies are running smarter."

The Symposium will bring together MIT’s academic thought leaders along with global CIOs and industry experts. In the weeks leading up to the MIT Sloan CIO Symposium, we will feature insights from speakers on our site. For the full agenda or to register, visit

[ Why is adaptability the new power skill? Read our new report from HBR Analytic Services: Transformation Masters: The New Rules of CIO Leadership. ]

Carla Rudder is a community manager and program manager for The Enterprisers Project. She enjoys bringing new authors into the community and helping them craft articles that showcase their voice and deliver novel, actionable insights for readers.  

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