As the technology landscape changes and evolves, so does the role of the CIO. Today’s CIO might have a long list of priorities that includes supporting a hybrid workforce, creating the ultimate end-user experience for employees and customers, and innovating through cloud solutions. 

With so many opportunities to shape the direction of your organization, how can you discern which strategies and tactics will deliver the most business value?  

For inspiration, we looked to Tim Crawford, CIO Strategic Advisor for AVOA. Tim is ranked as one of the most influential CIOs and has deep expertise in leveraging technology to transform business. He is the host of The CIO In The Know podcast, where he shares strategic insights and advice with business leaders. 

Given Tim’s impressive credentials, we’re pleased he could share his view on pressing issues facing CIOs. Read on to learn Tim’s thoughts about balancing business and technology needs and how to position your company – and yourself – for short-term and long-term success.

Tim Crawford Answers Your Pressing Questions About Digital and Business Transformation

What is the difference between digital transformation and business transformation? How can companies leverage this transformation for success? 

Digital transformation often refers to the modernization of a company’s technology estate to more modern systems, architectures, and processes. Business transformation is essentially a transformation of how a company operates on multiple levels, including business operations and customer engagement. The danger is proceeding with digital transformation without considering business transformation. 

Business transformation provides the direction and context for digital transformation. The pandemic has forced most companies to rethink their business and, therefore, driven the need for transformation at a business level. Business transformation then provides the context for digital transformation. 

The danger is proceeding with digital transformation without considering business transformation.

What are the most pressing challenges facing CIOs today? 

The most pressing challenges for CIOs are in the categories of supporting business transformation, customer engagement, and risk, including ransomware and cybersecurity. Secondarily, CIOs must consider hiring and retention in the realm of today’s remote work environment. 

While these are top-line issues, the CIOs role is further challenged with how to leverage innovations in data management, artificial intelligence, edge, and cloud while managing the ever-changing regulatory, compliance, and privacy requirements. 

What can a CIO do to adapt to emerging technology and affect businesses positively? 

Always start with the business objectives. Understand the role of the CEO and their remit for the company. Then consider the changing role of the IT org and how…and where emerging technology can appropriately fit in. Remember that there is not a one-size-fits-all approach here. Best practices need not apply. As each company and how it operates is unique, so must the technology it uses. 

Do you have any advice for CIOs on balancing the need for stability and the desire to innovate? 

At the end of the day, stable operations are table stakes. There is a balance between invoking increased risk from innovation and emerging technology versus stable operations. The key is to understand the balance and impact. Consider the risk and impact to others for both sides. In addition, consider the decision-making approach to ensure that the CIO is not saddled as the only one making decisions that impact critical business functions. 

What should CIOs prioritize over the next 1-3 years? 

Number one needs to be alignment with business operations. Most businesses are demonstrably changing both internally and externally. Understand the changing role of the CIO and IT organization as it goes through this transformation and beyond. 

Understanding the role of the IT organization will provide the context needed to determine the right organizational structure, staffing, skills, technology, and processes needed. For many, this may run counter to cultures that have existed for decades. Change is hard, especially for people. CIOs must understand and adapt accordingly. 

More Insights to Help You at Every Step of the Way 

Expectations have never been higher for CIOs. The key is delivering business results while balancing the needs of internal and external customers. It’s a massive undertaking, but, thankfully, you don’t have to go it alone. Don’t be afraid to lean on others within your organization and pursue expertise from transformational CIOs who have helped companies leverage technology to maximize business outcomes.  

Get started by following Tim Crawford

Twitter: @tcrawford  |  Podcast: The CIO In The Know