The tech leaders who spent 2021 focused on business acceleration will now be tasked with guiding business transformation.
2020 cemented the role of the CIO as a savvy business advisor. CEOs see CIOs and CTOs as the most critical executives over the next few years because of the connections they can provide, an IBM survey of 3,000 CEOs found.
Companies are expecting CIOs to advise, and execute in the new year. A more efficient organization awaits through automation and hybrid work technology implementations, two tasks squarely under the purview of CIOs. By 2024, Gartner expects these developments to lead nearly one-third of corporate teams to operate without a boss.
Alongside these changes, there's the unexpected. The developing impact of the omicron variant is leading companies to once again adjust their operating models, without reverting completely to early pandemic playbooks. A response to these changes, too, will require input from the CIO.
Here are five analyst predictions on the scope of the CIO role for 2022:
1. CIO job gains revenue metric
In the coming year, one in 10 tech execs will get their performance tracked on revenue, according to Forrester projections.
"Right now, not a lot of people in the tech world get goaled on revenue," said Matt Guarini, VP, senior research director at Forrester, in October. Instead, the performance of tech execs is measured in terms of their support of revenue streams, rather than specific dollar amounts.
"With the convergence being accelerated between tech execs and the business, we think that you're going to start to see some of these executives take on explicit revenue targets," said Guarini. Companies trying to integrate technology as closely as they can with the overall business believe this strategy will help drive that alignment forward.
2. CIO, the holistic leader
If previous years saw the CIO graduate from a backend service provider to a close advisor on business strategy or operations, 2022 will show that CIOs can advise and execute broadly across multiple areas of the business, according to Brian Bronson, president of Americas and APAC at Capgemini Engineering.
"I see a huge trend towards more and more strategic dialogue with the Board of Directors on down, more and more holistic, strategic thinking about how they are going to manage the business, how are they going to manage the data, what they are going to keep in house versus outsource or partner, and then completely remake their organizations to accommodate that," said Bronson.
The CIO moved from the internal technology provider to a more complex task in years past, Bronson said. Now, CIOs will implement technology, manage data and logistics, secure data, and deliver actionable intelligence.
"That's a huge difference from, 'my email system's not working,'" said Bronson.
3. CIOs vs. the fluidity of hybrid work
CIOs who quickly supported remote work in 2020 enabled operations under duress for most businesses. Their profile as efficient executives grew, but the trial by fire isn't quite over.
In 2022, CIOs will need to solve the challenges of hybrid work under a much more fluid scenario, as the rise of variants test the systems put in place during the relatively stable second half of 2021.
"You have different people in the office, different people working from home and that could change at any point," said Brian Jackson, research director, CIO practice at Info-Tech Research. "Maybe you'll all be remote again."
Responding to hybrid work demands will become a bigger portion of the CIO's workload next year.
"You don't know what to expect one month to the next," said Jackson. "So you have to be ready to support any scenario. "In terms of spending, I think people are going to be looking at their video conferencing solutions … and realizing that they're not quite up to snuff."
4. CIO as chief of staff
With tech plugged into more parts of the organization, in the coming year the CIO will more often sit at the center of operations, rather than on the sidelines, according to Marc Tanowitz, managing partner in the advisory and transformation division of West Monroe.
"The role will expand from chief information officer to look more like a 'chief of staff' to the C-suite that is relied on to provide advice and counsel," Tanowitz said in an email.
Part of the guidance the executive can provide is around how to transform their companies into digital enterprises that can respond to expectations from changing customer, worker, and regulator expectations.
5. CIO, a public-facing role
In response to the expansion of technology in the organization, CIOs will gain more notoriety outside their organization as a byproduct of their involvement with transformative strategies in the organization, according to Suneet Dua, products and technology chief revenue and growth officer at PwC US.
"This will expand the CIO role to become a more public-facing, company-wide role, which leads strategy and execution, expanding from standing up tech solutions to addressing the organization's COVID-19 response, new ways of working, driving digital skills training for employees, and enabling/overseeing citizen-led development," Dua said.
While the CIOs and CTOs of the past usually operated within the constraints of their departments, now companies take on a deeply integrated technology approach, a change actively led by technology leaders.