At every company, the CIO has a lot of different things that he or she is expected to be able to accomplish. At the same time, there are many things that are going on in the business environment around them. The entire company realizes the importance of information technology; however, at the end of the day, the big question that every CIO needs to be able to answer is out of everything that they have on their plate, just exactly what are the hot items that really do deserve their attention?
The Big Three
I’ve gone out and talked with CIOs in order to find out what issues are the ones that are taking up the most of their time. As you can well imagine, the list of issues that came with the CIO job was quite long, but there were three items that kept coming up over and over again.
The first of these was, interesting enough, the arrival of the digital wallet. The business side of the company is seeing that more and more of their customers are starting to use their mobile phones for everything. It’s not going to be long before cash and credit cards go the way of the dinosaurs. When this happens, the IT department is going to have to be ready to provide the company with the ability to take payments from its customers the way that they want to pay – by using their smartphones.
The next big issue that CIOs are facing is the arrival of mobile computing. Once upon a time, the software that ran the company lived on mainframes and hid in large data centers. Then came the web revolution and those applications transformed into web-based applications that lived on the Internet. Now yet another revolution is occurring. This time the company’s mission-critical applications are transforming themselves into mobile apps. From a CIO point of view this opens up a whole new set of issues that include such things as user experience and cyber security challenges.
The final issue that CIOs are facing is, of course, network security. The cyberthreats that the company is facing on a daily basis have become more and more important over time. These attacks come in two different formats: attacks on web sites and users (phishing attacks) and attacks on your company’s network itself (denial-of-service attacks). From a CIO’s point-of-view, this means that going forward you are going to have to devote even more time and funding in order to defend your company against these types of attacks.
What Your Internal Customers Want
With all of the various technology related changes going on in the IT industry, you’d think that a CIO would just have to stay on top of those types of issues and they’d have things covered, right? Well, it turns out that there is even more for them to worry about.
The rest of the business, the CIO’s true customers, have growing and evolving needs that have to be attended to. The recent global recession has made the rest of the company even more cost sensitive. This means that any IT project needs to have clearly defined business benefits associated with it.
Additionally, the old way of going off, working on an IT project for a year, and then showing up with a new application for everyone to start using no longer works. Instead, IT department now needs to be competitive in regards to issues such as agility, speed, and flexibility when it comes to dealing with its customers. What all of this means is that as CIO, you are going to have to do a good job of balancing your priorities and making sure that the business’ essential requirements are met by the IT department.
What All Of This Means For You
CIOs have way too much to do and far too little time in which to get it all done. Because of this, they need to prioritize their time. All issues are not the same and so it’s only the hot issues that really can get a CIO’s attention.
In interviews with CIOs, three hot issues came up over and over again. The first was the need to plan for the arrival of the digital wallet, the next was the move towards using mobile applications to conduct company business, and finally the constant issue of cyberthreats.
Balancing all of these external issues with the changing needs of the company’s business customers is what makes the job of being in the CIO position so demanding. The good news is that it can all be done, the challenge is finding the best way to do it!
Question For You: When you are developing mobile applications for your business, do you need to limit the mobile devices that you’ll support or should you try to support them all?
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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
As a CIO you have to spend a lot of time thinking about how to protect the company’s IT department. You think about hackers, viruses, Trojans, social engineering, and all of the other threats that we find in the modern definition of information technology. You buy firewalls and virus scanners and anything else that is sold to the IT sector to protect you. However, it turns out that the foe that you are trying to defend the company against may more likely be an insider. Considering the importance of information technology, what’s a CIO to do now?