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HP Software's community for IT leaders // October 2012
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The CIO of 2020: Will you be right for the job?

What will the CIO role look like in the year 2020? Not much like it does today. Here’s what your resume will need.

The CIO role must undergo a major renovation if it’s going to remain relevant in the future. By 2020, the CIO must transform from technology expert to business engineer who drives the strategic growth of the enterprise. To carry out this key directive, tomorrow’s CIO must stretch far beyond IT infrastructure, data centers and applications to encompass a future in which business and IT are tightly integrated.

To chart which skills the 2020 CIO will need to make this happen, we turned to our Enterprise 20/20 community for input from top executives, analysts, technologists and industry peers. We collected these thoughts in the debut chapter of our crowd-sourced ebook, available now for download. Based on that input, here are four key attributes that CIOs will need to demonstrate on their resumes.

1. Driver of innovation

Information technology is increasingly vital to a company’s ability to deliver innovative products and services, but a recent Economist survey found that only 50 percent of enterprises tap IT to drive competitive advantage. That’s going to change, bringing more pressure to bear on IT leaders to not merely run a tight IT ship, but to empower the whole enterprise to innovate. You won’t be providing infrastructure to business teams—you’ll be a key member of those teams.

Step one of becoming hyper-focused on innovation is to offload distracting, noncore processes such as payroll, expenses, travel, email and other communication tools to the many cloud and business service providers that will be available and competing for your business. Focus your internal talent on the real value-adds, and let specialized vendors worry about processing road-trip vouchers and keeping the email server up.

2. Cross-discipline collaborator

Project teams in 2020 will draw cloud providers, business service providers, free agents and in-house staff together for the life of a project, disbanding upon completion. Teams will be multidisciplinary and geographically distributed.

CIOs will need better tools—and better skills—in this environment. Teams in 2020 will collaborate using high-quality video and joint creativity tools such as digital whiteboards and shared documents stored in the cloud. The 2020 CIO will need to understand and, in some cases, build these tools, linking them across various teams and regions while also keeping everything secure, accessible and easy-to-use.

3. Information enabler

“Big data” isn’t going to get smaller. IDC estimates that by 2020, data will have multiplied 44 times, thanks in large part to technological advances, the proliferation of mobile devices and sensors, and social media—which adds a harder-to-manage flood of unstructured data.

The Economist survey found that 75 percent of C-suite executives said they would be able to make better decisions if they had the tools to gain insights from the mass of data they owned. Such analytics tools are already entering the marketplace, and well before 2020, the ability to collect, manage and truly analyze data will be a standard differentiator.

You’ll need to understand large, complex information systems, and to make the most of the latest tools that integrate, manage and extract value from an ocean of structured and unstructured data.

4. Balancer of security, risk and performance

Security and risk will remain primary concerns in 2020. BYOD and mobility will be fully absorbed into the enterprise, as will expectations from a workforce that needs access to business information and apps from anywhere, using any device. On top of that, IT assets will no longer be located in data centers under central CIO control, but instead may be spread across multiple locations and held by many different service providers.

IT organizations aren’t doing well on security awareness right now. The Economist survey found that only half of CIOs fully understand business and IT risk, and 25 percent of C-suite executives feel their CIO’s grasp of risk is poor.

By 2020, the CIO will be navigating a more complex world of IT security, managing risk rather than maintaining the old-fashioned perimeter already thoroughly eroded in the cloud and mobile era. You’ll need to manage risk across all IT systems, processes, suppliers and devices, all without bottlenecking performance or hobbling the user experience.

Getting to 2020

To evolve the CIO role, you need to understand and have a point of view on the forces at play. Next, you must take part in the conversation to help shape the evolution that is already under way. Start by joining the Enterprise 20/20 community, where you can discuss relevant issues with industry peers, ask questions of your own, explore new ideas, and take a proactive role in carving the path to 2020.

For a fifth key skill, check out this post on the Discover Performance blog.

To read the full perspective on the future role of the CIO, download “CIO 20/20,” the first chapter of the Enterprise 20/20 crowd-sourced ebook.


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It is based on data HP collected from 650 global companies about a range of IT characteristics (server capacities, approach to information management, security, BYOD, etc.) and how they correlate to revenue gain. This assessment will compare your answers to the average scores in that study.

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