- Nine in 10 CIOs report their roles and responsibilities have grown beyond technology to include areas traditionally associated with human resource and workforce management, sales and marketing, and sustainability and diversity, according to a survey released Tuesday by Lenovo.
- More than half of the 525 global CIOs surveyed said data analytics and business reporting were part of their purview. Environmental social governance (ESG); diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI); and talent acquisition were the top three additional areas outside of technology that required input from the CIO.
- “More and more the CIO is engaging with various line-of-business owners like they've never done before,” said David Rabin, chief marketing officer at Lenovo Solutions & Services Group. “You will not find somebody on a leadership team, from finance to legal to marketing to supply chain and sales, who does not have the CIO on speed dial.”
Boeing is known for its aircraft. MetLife sells insurance policies. But tech leaders at both companies spend a significant amount of time and energy solving problems that aren’t purely technology based.
They are not alone.
Technology skills are important. They’re central to the role of the CIO. But, as technology becomes a driver of businesses, chief technologists find themselves drawn into areas not traditionally associated with the CIO role.
The old model of IT as a “black box” that the CEO just wanted to know was being taken care of no longer applies, said Boeing CIO and SVP of Information Technology and Data Analytics Susan Doniz, who spoke as part of a Reuters virtual symposium on Aug. 24. To be effective, CIOs have to be peers in the leadership team, collaborating with other stakeholders and integrating IT into all aspects of business operations.
“You don’t just need to be a subject matter expert in terms of your field — technology,” Doniz said. “You actually need to know about the other parts of the business.”
The skill sets CIOs need are in supply chain, engineering, marketing and even human resource management, according to Doniz.
“You actually need to know HR, maybe not as well as your CHRO, but pretty darn close,” Doniz said.
Bill Pappas took over as EVP and head of global technology and operations at MetLife in November 2019, just a few months before the pandemic hit. “We moved the entire company to working from home, virtually, at the beginning of March,” he said in an interview with CIO Dive.
That was a technology challenge that encompassed customer relations, workforce management, sales and much more.
While technology has been Pappas’ main focus, it’s not his only priority. Creating a workplace and workforce culture that can attract and retain top tech talent — traditionally an HR function — has been high on his list as well.
“In order for us to attract a competitive and contemporary workforce, we have to understand that our technologists demand to be part of something bigger than just the technologies they work with,” Pappas said.
MetLife plans to add 400 new jobs at its global technology campus in Cary, North Carolina by the end of the year, according to Pappas, who splits his time between the tech campus and the company’s corporate offices in New York.
Adding talent in a competitive tech market that has seen near record lows over the first half of the year is a challenge — a different kind of challenge than the one Pappas faced in the spring of 2020. Now, he’s focused on MetLife’s employee value proposition (EVP) and creating an environment that can attract and retain the in-demand tech workers.
“As a new generation is coming in and the older ones are being reeducated, we have been doubling down on our EVP,” Pappas said. That includes finding sustainability solutions and pushing for workforce diversity, according to Pappas.