Top future skills for CIOs in 2022

We spoke to leading CIOs and tech leaders to understand what are some of the future skills that tomorrow’s CIOs need to build in order to thrive in an increasingly complex world.

Recalibration has been the name of the game in the last couple of years. The pandemic forced businesses and people to reevaluate their models, work and lives. And CIOs are no exception. As increased digitalisation morphed enterprises, CIOs were no more relegated to behind the scene stuff. But they were pushed at the forefront as organisations aligned business strategies with their tech strategies.

Given the two unprecedented years businesses have gone through and the leaps made in digital transformation, the role of the CIO has evolved during the pandemic. We spoke to leading CIOs and CTOs to understand what are some of the future skills that tomorrow’s CIOs need to build in order to thrive in an increasingly complex world.

Here’s what they shared.

CIOs need to see themselves as business leaders

Most leaders agreed that CIOs need to see themselves as business leaders and not as a reporting function or tech leader. CIO has to be both business leader and technology leader.

Miao Song, CIO, GLP, shared, “First, you have to understand the business to be a true business leader otherwise you can’t add value or stay relevant.”

CIOs need to focus on learning agility as everything is changing. Especially the technology landscape, almost on a daily basis. So they cannot get complacent. Continuous learning of what is out there, outside of their organisation is super important.

Miao also added that a CIO needs to be bold- not just a doer but a leader. Just doing your job and delivering is not sufficient for a CIO today. CIOs have to come up with bold innovation ideas and challenge the status quo. They also have to have people engagement skills and not just be a manager but a real leader who can engage with people, being able to tell compelling stories to make a bigger impact.

Soft skills with a strong business mindset

Ken Soh, Group CIO of mainboard listed BH Global Corporation Limited shared that on top of ongoing understanding and adoption of technologies, the soft skills in IQ, EQ, AQ, HQ plus a strong business mindset and acumen, are key attributes that today’s CIOs should possess to strive and thrive in today’s increasingly complex world.

CIOs will be expected to lead the rest of the organisation through clarity of expectations, coaching, development & tactically displaying situational leadership to meet the abilities of the people they’re leading., shared Rahul Shinde, CIO for Cola Beverages Vietnam.

They need to be good at influencing both lateral and upward – build trust and network of relationships through inspirational appeal, coalition & rational persuasion. Hence, influencing skills, growth mindset, leading innovation, customer focus with empathy, being data driven are all important qualities of tomorrow.

Having a “technology is the business” mindset

Having a “technology is the business” mindset would be crucial for future CIOs, shared Kelvin Wong is the Chief Technology Officer at KPMG in Singapore. To succeed in this new normal, CIOs must become more mindful of the bottom-line built on enhancing business acumen. For example, being personally involved in the business development process will help CIOs make informed decisions on the technology solutions required and utilise budget and resources wisely. Agility to shift strategies quickly for the business will also be key, with the CIO also needing to be well able to anticipate not just technology trends but even impending regulatory considerations that may impact business decisions and industry priorities.

Resilience, agility, and adaptability

Resilience, agility, and adaptability have become more important than ever. CIO needs to prepare and take the organisation together to rapidly respond to unexpected disruption, be that global pandemic or a cyber-attack. At the same time, they must pivot digital strategies to stay ahead in rapidly evolving marketplaces and increasingly competitive business landscapes, shared Rahul Shinde, CIO for Cola Beverages Vietnam.

Pairing powerful technology with an employee-first mindset

Companies will continue to invest in tools and technology for their digitally-driven remote workforce. But it is the CIO’s job to leverage real-time analytics and advance self-service capabilities both for employees and customers, as well as breaking down silos for easy access to information. Pairing powerful technology with an employee-first mindset is a skill CIOs need to hone as it is the secret sauce in providing the best experiences for customers, shared Colleen Berube, CIO & SVP, Operations, Zendesk.

Changing mindsets that move towards experience-based IT

CIOs today face the challenge of changing mindsets that move towards experience-based IT. Conventional IT organisations tend to focus on what technology can do, how it works and not consider the experience for the user. Changing this mindset takes time and proactive effort on behalf of CIOs and can be accelerated by having members sit alongside users to see what the actual user experience is like. Colleen Berube, CIO & SVP, Operations, Zendesk shared that

CIOs require the skill to ask different questions that move away from “what are your requirements” to “what is the experience that we want the customer and employees to have.”