Editor's note: The following is a guest post from Ian Pitt, CIO at Progress.
Remote work and the acceleration of digital transformation led to a holistic expansion of the CIO role. CIOs' responsibilities are continuously evolving in tandem with the technology landscape and there are new priorities compared to how their roles were defined in the past.
Historically, this C-suite role has been tasked with supporting IT solutions. CIOs now are owning innovation on every level within the organization's tech stack. They play an integral part of the core leadership team for business processes.
CIOs today are proactive decision-makers, tackling the shifting IT architecture, investing in the organization's tech product roadmap, overseeing tech talent as part of people operations and initiating security projects in their scope.
Below are the three critical priorities the modern CIO must consider this year as the role continues to carry more responsibility within the business:
1. Increase your cybersecurity savvy
Security risks are inevitable. Two years into the massive shift to remote work, CIOs are involved with actions in preventing malicious security attacks within a distributed workforce.
Priorities of security and IT teams are converging as organizations face an increase in global cyber threats. CIOs face new complex layers when managing hybrid workplaces such as people using their unsecured Wi-Fi networks and personal devices for work along with sophisticated phishing and cyberthreats.
The remote workplace structure created more avenues and network access points to an organization's data ecosystem. In turn, this creates more challenges surrounding data protection and ensuring and enforcing levels of security protocols.
CIOs must also educate employees on the social engineering tactics used by cybercriminals to prevent attacks. An example of educating employees is creating an internal cybersecurity awareness initiative. The job of protecting an organization is within the hands of every employee with access to valuable information.
Employees need to understand how their role plays into the larger picture of working remotely and reasoning for an organization's data security protocols.
Treating every network connection as fundamentally untrustworthy will continue to drive changes within the organization too - something that has interesting benefits outside of security as it assists in M&A integration too.
2. Boost tech retention amid 'work from anywhere'
The Great Resignation shook the job market to its core. And it will never be the same, especially for specialized tech roles.
Sourcing quality talent remains a challenge as roles within teams expand and employees are expected to work multiple roles or above their level among a labor shortage. This is where CIOs are closely tied to people operations, assisting with talent management and business growth.
In some circles, talent challenges kickstarted the conversation for reskilling in addition to options for flexible work locations. Some of the tactics for hiring align with CIO priorities, including offering educational and fast-tracking career growth opportunities to boost retention.
Maintaining employee engagement within the work from anywhere model will always be a challenge, but implementing key strategies for retainment is a solution. CIOs will need to rely on their soft skills and emotional intelligence to lead teams and understand needs across business units.
The open job market will continue to be challenging as tech roles expand in scope and the job expectations rise.
3. Accelerate IT architecture and develop product roadmaps
At the basic core of their job description, CIOs understand how emerging tech trends impact their organization and ensure company services are running efficiently. Many CIOs shifted infrastructure to the cloud out of necessity during the shift to working from anywhere.
However, organizations must now consider the long-term technology adaptability with the shift in IT architectures. Rapid digital acceleration gives CIOs the opportunity to reshape their organization's systems while developing new product roadmaps adjusted to the modern enterprise environment.
CIOs need to know where to spend for the best impact and they must make sweeping, directional changes to adjust to organizational needs. Global IT spending will grow more than 5% this year, reaching almost $4.5 trillion, according to Gartner projections.