CIO Report: IT role expanding into strategic arm of business
by Paul Davenport Paul Davenport on

The role of IT has expanded well beyond the traditional boundaries of the help desk, according to the latest 2021 State of the CIO report, as IT leaders spent 47 percent of their focus this past year helping their team drive wide-ranging “Transformational” efforts.

These transformational activities included “aligning IT initiatives with business goals” (40 percent of Transformational focus), “implementing new systems and architecture” (38 percent) and “redesigning business processes” (23 percent).

While it’s not surprising that CIOs and IT leaders are taking on a more holistic role in steering their organizations toward digital transformation, IT teams in general are playing a much more strategic role today than the more reactive posture IT departments held in the past.

As 96 percent of CIOs say their role is expanding beyond traditional IT responsibilities in 2021, the top areas commanding their attention include Cybersecurity (57 percent), Data analysis (47 percent), Data privacy and compliance (44 percent) Customer experience (39 percent), Business development (35 percent) as well as Employee experience (28 percent).

IT is also more closely tied to revenue-generating initiatives than in the past, according to 68 percent of CIOs polled, with 78 percent of CIOs seeing an uptick in direct interactions with customers, while 75 percent play a greater role in developing the customer journey.

This follows the accelerated trend toward digital transformation that’s been monitored across the enterprise space, as even change-averse organizations have been forced to explore new outreach and workflows to weather the socially-distanced, digital-first reality of 2021. As more workers and customers were forced to stay home over the past year, enterprises had to transform from a market-facing perspective and behind the scenes to stay competitive, which calls on IT to steer challenging new tech initiatives at a faster pace than ever before.

Meeting workers, customers on their terms

Part in parcel with the “redesigning business processes” function includes supporting a workforce that will remain largely remote long after pandemic restrictions have been lifted.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai recently announced in a company-wide memo that he anticipates up to 60 percent of Google employees will practice a three day in-office work week going forward, while upwards of 20 percent will work from home indefinitely. To that end, Google will start deploying “Work-From-Anywhere weeks,” in which employees can temporarily work from a location other than their main office for up to 4 weeks per year, granting Googlers more flexibility around summer and holiday travel.

But supporting all of these new working conditions calls for enterprise leaders to embrace investment into digital transformation—lest they fall behind the competition.

Roughly 75 percent of business leaders surveyed by Deloitte credited their organizations’ digital capabilities for helping them survive during the pandemic, a new report finds, as more than two thirds of respondents see businesses that fail to digitize and transform across departments within the next five years as “doomed.” This aligns closely with Gartner’s recent forecast that expects IT spending to top $4.1 trillion in 2021 across industries as companies start identifying new areas for digital transformation beyond the traditional back-office.

This all hinges on enterprise IT having broad visibility across their entire network footprint, from the third-party cloud environments hosting employee SaaS to the residential ISP connections fueling work at residential workstations. IT requires this kind of visibility to get ahead of and prevent business-debilitating issues from impacting the ability of the workers to continue driving revenue.


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Filed Under: Industry Insights

Tags: future of IT , future of work , hybrid work , remote work , work from anywhere , work from home , digital transformation , enterprise transformation , network transformation , cloud transformation , transformation , CTO , CIO , IT , enterprise IT