What Key Skills do CIOs Need Today?

By James Mellor posted 02-15-2021 02:46


A chief information officer (CIO) is the executive in charge of information technology. As technology has evolved, so has the role of the CIO. Today a CIO not only has to manage IT teams and assets like hardware and software, but is also responsible for strategic planning related to computer systems and networks. It is often the CIO that leads the execution of digital transformation initiatives. 

CIOs normally need a blend of hard skills, such as a background in data science to establish an understanding of technology and an MBA to know how to apply technology to business operations. However, they also need soft skills, such as communication skills. Here are some of the key skills they need today. 

Technology skills

A CIO needs to know what technology can do and how it can impact a business. They investigate how an organization can use technology to streamline business operations to increase productivity, improve customer service and much more. Successful CIOs can empower IT organizations to create the type of digital environment that is necessary to move to new operating models and hybrid cloud environments. 

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Business skills

As CIOs manage processes, people, outsourcing, financials, risk and overall strategy, they need to be business savvy to be able to support the organization’s goals and objectives. They have come out of the back office and become strategic business partners that help to drive innovation and revenue-generating ideas. 

Technology is enabling more collaboration, productivity and new ways of doing business. The potential is endless but this means making changes and many organizations feel trepidation when it comes to change. CIOs must be able to sell the vision of how technology can improve business operations across the organization. 

Data strategist skills

CIOs must understand all the steps in collecting and synthesizing data. They need to know where data comes from and how to use it to improve business performance. This helps them to lead their teams efficiently. People need training on how to analyze the data that’s collected. 

Analysis of data is necessary for business insights that can inform decisions and actions. While CIOs need to be forward-thinkers, they also need to calculate how risky certain moves will be by utilizing data. 

Effective communication skills

CIOs have to clearly and succinctly explain the scope of a project to those who report to them. Dealing with sensitive or difficult topics is part of the job as well as handling any miscommunications. The CIO must be able to convey to teams how their work connects with the overall business goals. 

CIOs must be able to not only lead their own teams but facilitate dialogue with other parties in the organization. As they interact with C-level executives and other management personnel, they must be able to convey in-depth technical solutions in understandable, concise ways.

Creative thinking skills

Technology evolves constantly and CIOs need to be able to anticipate advances and respond to new developments. The fact that they can embrace and respond to new ideas is essential for the health of the whole organization. 

As catalysts for change, they can help an organization stay ahead of competitors and prevent it from stagnating. They can’t afford to be risk-averse if they want to support the current and future demands of an organization. 

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