While the CIO role has been around for over 25 years, it has never been a more key role than it is right now. And according to the 2018 CIO Census, this is not a trend likely to end any time soon.

“There is at least an aspiration among companies to be more transformational,” said CIOCAN National Program Director Steve Heck, who exchanged ideas with CA Technologies Senior Director Kovar Gregory and ITWC CIO Jim Love at a recently webinar entitled What are Canadian CIOs Thinking? A review of the 2018 CanadianCIO Census.

“It’s a balancing act,” Gregory added. “You’ve got to keep the lights on while you grow the business. I think that trend is here to stay and I think as some of the technology helps reduce the cost to run, more of the budget can be shifted over to grow and transform initiatives.”

Even among public organization CIOs, he said, there is an “aspiration for transformation” — what Love referred to as “working to get into transformational mode.”

Hiring
Love presented some key findings of the latest CIO Census in the area of hiring, including:

  • Forty-four per cent of CIOs are hiring or increasing IT headcount, continuing a trend started in 2017
  • Active hiring going on in big data/BI/analytics (33 per cent), business analysis (30 per cent), and enterprise app development (28 per cent)

“It’s still a great time to have an IT career — if you possess the right skills,” said Love. Love also pointed to a 20 per cent hiring percentage in help desk/IT support/network security as being indicative of a favourable wind for security officers in general.

“The role of the chief information security officer is really being formalized in many organizations,” Heck agreed. “It really is a full-time job. There’s too much complexity to it now to be done strictly as a hobby.”

Security focus
CIOs surveyed spoke loud and clear about what elements and technologies were meeting or exceeding their expectations as well as those that are failing to meet expectations:

  • High performers: Security, Cloud, Mobility
  • Poor performers: Outsourcing, Social Media

“There’s a huge cost associated with breaches,” said Gregory, “and people are losing their jobs. So there’s a lot of emphasis now on security. Without security, you don’t have a great business.”

Gregory suggested that the fact that there seems to be less news of data breaches points to increased vigilance in companies, that people are focusing on security and are keeping it as a top priority. “They know that if you don’t have the customer’s confidence that you’ll keep their data secure, they’ll go somewhere else.”

“There’s this myth that security is a vast sinkhole where all we do is spend and spend and spend. But the people who are investing in it are seeing great results from it.”

Leadership and culture
Heck was very clear on the make-or-break factor for leaders. “You can create a great vision,” he said, “but it’s the people who will make it happen. We have so much technology available to use right now, but how do we get our people, stakeholders, and partners to change business processes that are well entrenched?”

“Culture is everything,” Love agreed. “You’re limited not by technology but by your imagination and your ability to effect cultural change.”

And change has to happen at all levels of an organization, added Gregory. It comes from the top but requires buy-in at all levels. And it’s often no easy task, to get all the pieces working in harmony. “People want to do things the way they’ve always done things.”

Love’s point that the key is in effective communication was picked up on by Heck. “Change management is key,” he said. “Without it, you won’t get the full benefit, and might even risk failure.”

What may be coming
Love presented some of the predictions made by webinar attendees:

  • Business intelligence and AI analytics will provide better decisions for future business development
  • The IT department will become part of the business operation team, changing from a cost centre to a revenue generating organization
  • Digital “twin-ism” will prevail where IT and business operators will partner more closely
  • Enterprise business transformation projects will be led and managed by senior IT leaders

View on demand What are Canadian CIOs Thinking? A review of the 2018 CanadianCIO Census



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