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Why CIOs Have to do More Than Just Keeping the Lights on



Innovation and incorporating advanced technology in a business is a new determinant of success around the globe, especially when it comes to driving competitive advantage. Companies that want to drive innovation and run their business more efficiently must accept technological transformations. Despite this knowledge, businesses are still spending most of their budget “to keep the lights on” — spending on basic systems and infrastructure maintenance. The IT leaders in such organisations understand the high potential of digital business in their organisation, but the lack of enough budgeting for technological innovation is a major factor that is holding them back.

According to Gartner, CIO spending is expected to rise from its current 18% to 28% in 2018. Companies that are already at 34% will increase to a 44% allocation. Organisations must adjust their day-to-day maintenance to allow more significant budget allocations to incorporate the future. Organisations without a focus in innovation are more likely to be outplaced by their competition, or their CIO’s will not be adding value as they could if they had the resources.

The Future of IT Departments

The shift in business models from the typical land-based enterprises to e-commerce has led to more reliance on IT departments in helping facilitate innovation in their organisations. This major shift shows an improvement from the concept of having CIO’s only to keep the lights on. About have a decade ago the role of a CIO could not be related to the IT department, but now the focus is on IT department as a leader for the much needed digital transformation in an organisation. IT also has a role to play in other crucial areas such as creating technology-enabled business models and flexible work environment.

Human Capital at Risk?

Businesses that are adopting innovations to gain a competitive edge also have to deal with the complications that technology brings. CIOs and IT organisations have to ensure that employees will continue to work together as a team without worrying about losing their jobs. Staff should be prepared for the digital transformation through sharing of information.

The Changing Role of the CIO

The widespread reliance on technology has strengthened the IT department, meaning CIOs are no longer the only purveyors of technology in an organisation. The role of the CIO should, therefore, become more significant, and innovation should take the big part. CIOs, therefore, have to do more than keeping lights on by adopting new roles that extend IT’s future strategic position in the organisation. They must evolve to ‘chief innovation officers’ if they want to thrive in the new work environment. They must, therefore, become more proactive in promoting strategy and educating their C-level peers if they wish to see the transformation that will require more than just keeping the lights on.

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