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The modern CIO: Steering the company from the mission control seat
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The modern CIO: Steering the company from the mission control seat

Over the past two years, the role of the CIO has expanded tremendously, emerging as a role synonymous with key decision-maker. Today’s CIO tackles a job that is deeply integrated, with an amorphous list of responsibilities that moves alongside new technology discoveries, challenges, and business disruptions. However, this evolution in mindset did not take place overnight. As technological developments have rippled out to touch all parts of business, the CIO position’s influence has steadily increased within the C-suite.

New IT and the hot seat

Based on Lenovo’s recent global CIO study, the majority of CIOs (88%) believe their role is the most critical component of their organization’s continued operation, and 77% believe their performance is more important to the success of their organization than the work of other C-suite roles. In fact, nine in 10 CIOs report that their roles and responsibilities stretch beyond managing technology. Areas now under their purview can include ESG, diversity, equity and inclusion, HR and talent acquisition and sales and marketing.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to enterprise leaders given the rise of “New IT” – the convergence of devices, edge computing, cloud computing, network and artificial intelligence. New IT ceases to be just about deploying hardware, but how technology can be harnessed to solve some of our greatest challenges such as adoption of flexible work and sustainability.

The promotion of the CIO to the mission control seat was, therefore, logical and well underway even before the pandemic. Digital disruption’s relentless march was already keeping businesses on their toes, and enterprises were scrambling to implement changes to stay competitive. By extension, CIOs felt called upon to take on a greater leadership role in positioning their organizations to out-innovate their competitors and deliver outstanding customer values and employee experiences.

The shift to hybrid and remote work in the past two years simply accelerated this transformation: 82% say the CIO role has become more challenging compared to just two years ago as they confront a vast array of unique challenges, from the increasing use of AI and automation to talent acquisition in a global, remote workforce. Common challenges include data privacy/security (66%), cybersecurity/ransomware (66%), keeping up with technological change (65%), managing fragmented IT vendor ecosystems (61%) and adopting/deploying new technology (60%).

CIOs feel the pressure intensely. They are acutely aware of their role in driving tangible business outcomes, like creating new business opportunities and revenue streams. To weather these challenges and adapt to a rapidly evolving disruption landscape, CIOs must find new ways to navigate their way through volatile environments and changing customer needs.

Staying relevant with Everything-as-a-Service

To navigate these challenges and discharge their new responsibilities well, CIOs must equip themselves and ensure their tech stack is set up for success from the get go. In the modern enterprise, CIOs expect tech requirements to change every 12 to 18 months.

In a complex technological environment, when a business needs to pivot quickly in reaction to external forces, the “as-a-service” model of delivery for IT hardware, software and services offers companies of all sizes the ultimate flexibility to stay competitive with a scalable, cloud-like consumption model and predictable payment options for hardware and service inclusions.

Leveraging “as-a-service” will free in-house teams from handling routine and tedious IT processes and infrastructure maintenance, enabling them to focus on creating higher-value business initiatives. Simply put, CIOs should spend their time innovating, not managing IT.

These benefits are so vital that CIOs are willing to go to great lengths to gain that efficiency. Given the chance to reboot from scratch, most CIOs (57%) say they would replace half or more of their company’s current technology. Nearly all CIOs (92%) would consider adding new as-a-service offerings over the next two years. Industry forecasts corroborate this shift. Technology Business Research indicates that device subscription services are growing at a CAGR of 26% from 2020 to 2024 and data center subscription services are growing at 42% during the same period.[1] Compared to the previous year, 63% of companies are using more Device-as-a-Service in their tech stack.

Calling for co-pilot support

Pulled in multiple directions, CIOs face the exhausting task of keeping up with the pace of technology while running a smooth operation. They must constantly seek out and manifest new revenue-generating ideas. Motivated to improve organizational agility and system security, CIOs expect to pull vendors into the ring to help move their companies toward greater efficiency. At Lenovo, we recognize the opportunities and challenges CIOs face and look to support them on this journey as they continue to take on more responsibilities across the full technology value chain.

Lenovo’s broad portfolio of end-to-end solutions provide organizations with the breadth and depth of services that empower CIOs to leverage new IT to achieve their strategic outcomes. Organizations also have the flexibility to scale and invest in new technology solutions as they need them. In particular, Lenovo TruScale, our Everything-as-a-Service offerings, optimizes purchasing, deployment and management of infrastructure, hardware and licensing, from the pocket to the cloud via a single contract and one point of contact for maximum agility. As a result, CIOs can stay ahead of the demands of their businesses.

As any good captain knows, success follows the ability to combine an agile approach to tackling challenges with a tactical eye to working smarter, not harder. Companies best positioned to achieve success will engage strong technology partners who can be their co-pilots in scaling and future-proofing the business for years to come.

[1] Technology Business Research, Hardware Subscription Services Market Landscape, Third Calendar Quarter 2021