The growing importance of the CIO

Published by Luc Brouwers
April 15, 2021 @ 10:56 AM

THE GROWING IMPORTANCE OF THE CIO, in today's rapidly digitalising business world.

On March 23rd, 2021 19 digitals leader discussed this topic with representatives of Salesforce and CIONET.

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During the last 12 months the pandemic underlined the importance of IT and of the CIO as a key leader in today’s organisations. Not only did IT need to support an exponential increase in home-working yet also had to deal with a sharp increase in cyberattacks while employees were logging in from far less secured locations.

Screenshot meeting 2021-03-23

Technology became more important, and in many organisations, IT became a hero. In companies that were obliged to close the business pause was a time for making investments in digitalisation and preparing for the future. While business suffered in the short term, investments in technology predict a bright future.


In sectors with traditionally many sales representatives visiting customers daily, a sudden and fundamental shift towards virtual commercial visits took place. Technology allowed traditional salespeople to continue to do their job. This obviously meant an increase in helpdesk support IT needed to provide. Home-working had the potential of a better work/live balance and higher productivity and today nobody can say anymore that we cannot work from home.

The increase in ransomware attacks put It much higher on the agenda. Cybersecurity became a topic of the agenda of many executive committees. In many organisations the cybersecurity budget increased and investments in new generation security tools were made. Organisations became also more aware for the need of monitoring suspicious behaviour on networks and systems.

Because technology has become vital to most companies’ bottom lines, no matter the product or service sold, CIO's can no longer simply be technical experts. IT and business came together with better products and services as result. Together they learned to look for the outcome rather than for the successful implementation of a project. If before IT was requested to build another bridge, today business and IT are perhaps ready to accept that the best solution is a tunnel.


The role of IT is changing. Where 10 years ago IT department was the expert in technology and proposed the next investments in technology, today IT knowledge is all over the place. The role of IT has evolved from innovator to glue between initiatives, the director of the orchestra and the enabler of change. This may be perceived differently based on the maturity of an organisation. One model will not fit all organisations. IT sometimes inspires, and sometimes has to calm down but in any case IT makes a difference by providing options and flexibility. Sometimes the distinction between business and It is not clear anymore, yet only few CEO’s are really IT savvy and see its full potential.

The CIO typically has the overview of the entire company and has an ideal about the potential of new technologies. A CIO can capitalise on this and become the new type of CEO, who will thrive in the future.

Posted in:CIONET Belgium

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