cio lead image for lenovo report.
Image: iStockphoto/milindri

To anyone who follows the IT industry, it will come as no surprise that the role of the CIO has been expanding in importance and responsibility over the past decade. This is because technology-fueled digital transformation initiatives at most organizations today are the driving force behind topline growth and bottom-line efficiency.

“As CIOs continue to engage directly in more facets of the business including HR, finance, DE&I, and corporate sustainability, their roles and responsibilities will continue to evolve and grow,” said Ken Wong, president of Lenovo’s Solutions and Services Group. “They are also re-envisioning the role of IT functions within each business unit as computing complexities increase and decentralization of in-house IT takes hold.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has only added fuel to this already hotly burning fire, according to a Lenovo’s new SSG Global Study of CIOs report. Eighty-nine percent of respondents said their role is more important today than it was two years ago.

“Today, CIOs are now engaging in all facets of a business including human resources, finance, digital optimization and integration, [diversity, equity and inclusion] DE&I, and corporate sustainability,” the report said. “These C-Suite executives represent a de facto mission control — sitting at the center of corporate strategy, digital and technological innovation, operations, business growth, and talent development.”

SEE: 3 key issues faced by CIOs and IT executives (TechRepublic)

While many CIOs are still viewed by their business counterparts as order-takers whose main job is to keep the lights on, of the 525 CIOs interviewed for the study 92% said they are asked to make decisions and investments “that go far beyond technology.”

For example, 42% reported that they are involved in diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, 28% said they have finance and procurement responsibilities and 29% said they are part of organizational restructuring efforts.

They also see themselves as pivotal to their organization’s overall success. Three out of four (77%) of respondents answered affirmatively to the question “My company/organization’s success and failure hinges more on my performance as CIO than other C-Suite roles.”

“Many believe their companies would immediately feel the impact if they stopped spending the necessary capital on digital transformation,” the report said.

A number of these CIOs said they face “significant headwinds” because their current technology stack is not up to the tasks their organization’s face. More than half (57%) said they would replace a large portion of their current technology infrastructure if they could start over.

Even so, many CIOs report their organizations have done a decent job of weeding out redundant technology stacks. Fewer than 10% of respondents reported that more than 40% of their technology stack is redundant.

In answer to the question, “How important is technology to each of the following aspects of your company/organization?” over 85% specified supply chain management, customer and client relationships, business process efficiency and regulatory compliance. These were followed closely by business operations, talent acquisition, ESG commitments, and diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.

About the report

The global research was commissioned by Lenovo and conducted by Zeno Group. It surveyed 525 CIOs across the United States, United Kingdom, Brazil, Singapore, China and Japan. The research was done via online surveys in December 2021.