Confident and Innovative: The new breed of CIO

, Oct 30, 2020

The role of the CIO is transforming, from its position in the C-suite hierarchy to the very footprint it covers. This week, we welcome guest blogger Paul Pugh, Mason Advisory Director, to give his view on the Logicalis Global CIO survey findings and tell us what’s keeping his clients awake at night.

Security is top of the agenda

We live in an age where IT is no longer just an enabler but is now becoming an integral part of the business. In many cases, IT is actually the business’ competitive advantage. And with the growing importance of IT to the operation and continued growth of the vast majority of business sectors, it’s little wonder that the number one concern and biggest source of investment for CIOs is information security.

The more we digitise our businesses; the more we empower the end user, the more important information security becomes. And with the growing threat of intrusion the more proactive CIOs must be.

Historically, information security was all about being reactive. But in this ever-changing threat landscape, CIOs are focusing on proactive security, channelling investment into systems that stop threats happening.

Cyber resilience combines defence with detection and recovery; accepting some attacks are going to make it through the toughest of barriers. This move to a cyber resilience posture is a growing trend among our clients. Effective cyber risk management involves a much wider approach to information security, and this year we have certainly witnessed the human dimension of cyber security gain more attention.

According to research from the recent CIO Survey, while ransomware, crypto-jacking and social engineering remain a key focus for CIOs, there has been growing concern over the lack of staff training and awareness, data breaches and malicious insiders. CIOs are now considering the ‘human firewall’ alongside traditional security technology.

Innovation earns IT its place at the top table

Over the last ten years, we’ve witnessed the changing role of the CIO and this trend is really gathering momentum. The need to innovate is possibly the biggest catalyst for change. One area of focus is within DevOps. There seems to be a growing mentality of continual release where newer, richer functionality is continually being delivered to the end user, and the CIO is integral to that.

Today, better, faster, more scalable technology is almost a given. Now, innovation is how we can support the business to provide a better experience to the end user, and how we can make sure our internal processes are more agile, more secure, more available and performant.

The new breed of CIO is coming to the table with an appetite to understand more, to adopt new ways of working and to drive business strategy.

The anatomy of the IT estate is changing

The Global CIO Survey talks of the expanding footprint but shrinking core of the IT estate, in which the core – technology and services hosted on-premises and managed in-house – now accounts for less than two thirds (64%) of the IT estate. We have certainly witnessed this trend of CIOs moving services to the cloud and into the hands of third-party providers.

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Lots of organisations are looking at SaaS products which allow them to manage costs more effectively. There will always be services that organisations have to customise or develop in-house. But for the more common services, there are benefits – not least financial – to moving to a SaaS system, as long as the appropriate governance is in place, otherwise the move to the cloud can offer additional service and commercial challenges.

As cloud security and reliability grows, many organisations are putting their faith in cloud services, from email and security to CRM and data storage. The CIO Survey results show that 24% of the IT estate is now in the cloud, whether that be managed in-house or by third parties.

The move to outsourcing and moving services to the cloud is driven, in part, by the need to devote more time to innovation and activities that drive business growth. As this movement continues, we will see the role of the CIO continue to be shaped by the need to innovate with technology, delivering better communication, more transparency and improved security. The pressures are certainly growing – but so is confidence to decide which systems and services to keep in-house and which to migrate to the cloud and third-parties. It’s certainly an exciting time to be a CIO.

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