The role of CIO and IT in the recent past cannot be underestimated-in fact, to many organizations, their role has been critical. The world of business has kept on transforming and as such the roles of CIO and IT have to keep in tandem with the market changes. The shifts in relation to such terms as ‘the cloud’, ‘mobile connectivity’, ‘social’ and ‘data analytics’ have all shaped the business world in the recent past. CIOs have the challenging role of strategically exploiting each of the innovations not only for efficiency and cutting costs-but for much more gains that would accrue to the business.

Gartner’s ‘New State of the CIO Report for 2014’ refers to this trend as the ‘digitization of businesses. In this report, they seek to answer the question; are efficiency and cutting on costs the only absolute measurements of success for the IT industry? With the evolution of IT, it could be true that traditionally, the successes of IT have been measured on the basis of efficiency and low costs. But with the continued evolution in the industry-there is much more demanded from CIO and IT than just what it has already achieved. The current stage of digitization of business seems to be the third era of enterprise IT-according to Gartner. In the following diagram, the progression of the IT industry is outlined towards achieving more successful metrics apart from low costs and efficiency.

Statistics from recent researches support Gartner’s view. While efficiency and low cost remained constant expectations of the business cycles; the business also expects integrity, agility, innovation as well as growth in IT from as metrics for success.

Emerging trends of CIOs, the future of CIO and strategic role of CIOs
The future of CIOs has been a subject of discussion for some time now. Talking to CIOs and other stakeholders in the industry, there seems to be emerging trends. There are those CIOs who are more towards infrastructure while others towards innovation. The two aspects are critical for any successful IT experience. Without infrastructure, it is almost impossible to enjoy any of the benefits inherent in the digitization of business. But again once the infrastructure is in place, only the CIO with an eye on innovation will be able to strategically exploit the benefits of the infrastructure.

Emerging trends of CIOs are also influenced by different companies, industries and preferences by the respective CEOs. While for some the future of CIOs may seem threatened, action, not reaction is required. It is important for CIOs to keep an eye on the emerging trends in the industry. Specifically, to ensure optimum exploitation of IT, the CIO of Cameron International advises as follows:

*Ensure you get a 3600 understanding of your organization. A proper understanding of your organization is the first step in ensuring proper utilization of your IT resources. The needs and wants of your organization need to be met by your IT solutions.

*Run IT as a shared service. This enables for more use of IT in the organization with much ease. IT should not be a stand-alone enterprise-it is meant for some end user.

*Develop strategic leadership. You cannot be an expert in everything. Leverage on the expertise of your team members as well as every other person in the organization. With your IT knowledge, you can be sure to achieve much more success in IT.

*You do not need to consolidate everything. Know what works and what does not work. You will need to interact with the people in the organization and the systems to know what to change and what not to.

How are you addressing innovation and emerging trends in your IT organization? Share your experiences and lessons learned with us today in the comments section.