The CIO’s shifting IT leadership role in modern enterprise

Remote working has increased the need for senior IT leadership, but the demand is currently outstripping supply.
18 June 2021

The unprecedented shift to remote working in the past year has resulted in an increased reliance on IT infrastructure as businesses struggled to even remain operational. For many an organization’s leadership, this has revealed the already existing weaknesses of their IT systems, or even a lack of business-oriented digital strategy altogether.

And for those finding themselves in this situation, it may well be the case that a digital transformation is long over-due.

Increased IT reliance

With all industries competing for new talent and opportunities, it’s more important than ever for organizations to make positive and effective IT changes, that can equip them with the time-efficient resources they need to navigate the ever-developing security landscape. These transitions, which are often significant, risky, and costly, require senior IT leadership capabilities and experience to bridge the gap between IT and business leadership and achieve a positive and effective transformation.

However, finding the right person with the necessary expertise and experience can come to a significant cost, particularly for the small and mid-market. Now more than ever, remote working has increased the need for senior IT management, but the demand for senior IT leadership and skills is outstripping supply.

This creates a real problem for those small and mid-market businesses who require professional IT advice and support, but who are unable to allocate the funds required to hire a top-tier CIO or simply don’t have the workload necessary to justify a full-time hire.

The on-demand solution

For the small and mid-market, an ideal cost-effective solution to this conundrum may well be to invest in an on-demand CIO consultancy service. It’s an innovative and effective way for businesses to benefit from the experience and talent of a senior IT expert to transform their digital infrastructures, all the while sparing the cost of a top-level senior leader which could amount to £150k or more.

The dedicated and experienced CIO consultant works in partnership with the organization, taking responsibility for ensuring IT systems deliver measurable results and setting out a clear strategy for tech investments and improvements. As the CIO consultant will work with a mixture of clients, the cost can essentially be divided between them which gives organizations direct access to someone with a board-level understanding of performance who can also deliver an effective digital transformation.

Aside from being a cost-effective and flexible solution, investing in a consultant CIO can also improve a business’s agility and performance in the long term. With an understanding of both IT and business leadership, consultant CIOs can serve as an important communication channel for various parties and stakeholders, internally and externally. This means that in the short, medium, and long-term, the tech and digital changes are developed and thought through with the business in mind which can, as a result reduce unnecessary spend as well as enhance client service delivery and engagement.

Alongside that, a CIO consultancy service can also deliver tangible business outcomes in accordance with the organization’s wider goals and strategies to ensure that investments are de-risked and not wasted in long term in terms of cost and effort.

Virtual CIO in IT leadership

The beauty of hiring an on-demand CIO then truly lies in the flexibility of the arrangement for small and medium businesses. With the benefit of a full, expert, external team, the service offers scope to utilize them as and when is needed to best suit and support the business.

So, despite being external, consultant CIOs become a real and integral asset to the team, delivering the continuous management of strategies to ensure the business’s IT system is both performant and as simple and streamlined as possible, both in terms of back-end complexity and user experience.

Simply put, the value of a dynamic and skilled CIO cannot be measured in purely technical terms. Business leaders should instead consider how strong IT expertise and management directly adds to value for them. For smaller and medium-size organizations, the service can respond to the increasing reliance on highly performing IT systems and efficient long-term investment strategies as well as contribute to the growth that enables a business to stay competitive and meet its aspirations.




This article was contributed by Robert Rutherford, CEO of QuoStar