Adapt now: 2020 trends will continue to redefine the CIO role

2020 is going to be a pivotal year for CIOs as they adapt to the new parameters of the role...

This is a contributed article by Jamshid Rezaei, CIO, Mitel

Over the past decade, the CIO has seen his or her role shift from being an advisor on technology to a full-on strategic partner to the C-suite. Today, they are guiding companies through the digital transformation that is making or breaking business success in everything from retail to financial services to tech.

Everything today's CIOs touch has a direct impact on the business. Their role can't be limited to just technology; and trends affecting the business as a whole need to be on their radar. 2020 is going to be a pivotal year for CIOs as they either adapt to the new parameters of the role and successfully guide their company's transformation, or find new pastures.

Here are the top trends as we close the book on 2019 and enter another year of rapid transformation of the CIO:

CIO, Chief Business Partner

CIOs need to have the foresight to not only educate themselves on the non-technical elements of transformation - business implications, regulatory issues, security threats, talent development, and the consumerisation that led to all this transformation in the first place - but surround themselves with colleagues that are bought in to this mentality as well. Today's and 2020's CIOs need to carry a people-first mindset and be inclusive of input from a variety of different stakeholders to have any real hope of success. A company's digital transformation success will depend on it.

Innovation hinges on technology and digital transformation in particular will require employee engagement and involvement from top to bottom. But it's not as simple as convincing the CEO to make an investment. Innovation and digital transformation require an enormous amount of collaboration to be successful. This often means reallocating or retooling talent, so your people are motivated and equipped to row in the same direction as leadership in your digital transformation journey.

Digital transformation needs to be about people before it can be about new processes, new tools, and a better bottom line. Digital transformation is a long and ongoing process and having an entire organisation engaged will be key to its success. The speed of tech's evolution in the enterprise has quickly changed the very nature of many roles and career paths. While CIOs are still grappling with their own shifting role, they need to carry a people-first mentality and be inclusive of input from a variety of different stakeholders.

Consumerisation of the enterprise

Forget whatever buzz term is out there (blockchain, etc.) the rapid spread of "consumerism" and its demands is the top trend that will affect the enterprise now, in 2020 and for the next few years. Outside of work, employees are quickly experiencing technology making their lives easier by the minute. Technologies like Amazon, Alexa, Google, IoT and AI are already so integrated into our day-to-day lives that we have created new expectations in and outside the enterprise. Consumer tech adoption always moves faster than enterprise tech, but employees will still expect devices and platforms that are easy to use and offer a quality user experience nonetheless. Consumers are now bringing those expectations of immediacy and ease to the office as employees and customers.

This is especially true with collaboration tools in the enterprise. Fast collaboration is the foundation to digital transformation and enterprises have a long way to go to meet the growing expectations that employees are now bringing into the office for their work lives as well. Collaboration tools are enabling more communication in real time, cloud migration is driving scale that wasn't previously possible, and more and more options are becoming available for today's CIO to empower their employees to feel engaged with digital transformation.

Multi-cloud architecture

Many businesses rushed into the cloud, and for good reason - it brought the power of computing scale, mobility, automation, and centralisation to new heights. However, the race to drive new efficiencies and better experience via the cloud has unintentionally resulted in data living in multiple places, from onsite to public cloud infrastructure to vendor-specific clouds. Data needs to flow freely from one source to another in this "Internet of Cloud" and an organisation's leadership will turn to the CIO to understand and manage this challenge.

Managing data interchange from different environments is a matter of integrity, security, and compliancy. Companies are all over the map in terms of their individual cloud journey and may not be thinking about this problem until it's too late - but their CIOs need to be.

For any company today, innovation and digital transformation are dependent on technology. This will always fall on the shoulders of the CIO, as they'll have to answer to a growing variety of different stakeholders that need the right technologies in their hands to improve their work and, ultimately, the business. 2020 will be a pivotal year for CIOs. Expectations for digital transformation have never been higher and there will be more and more eyes on the CIO to produce results and take ownership of guiding their company through this journey.  

Jamshid Rezaei, CIO at Mitel

As Chief Information Officer, Jamshid Rezaei is responsible for driving Mitel's information technology (IT) initiatives, as well as developing and executing Mitel's own digital transformation efforts. A passionate driver of change and innovation, Rezaei has been at the forefront of digital technology implementation in business communications for nearly two decades. He joined Mitel in February 2014 following the acquisition of Aastra Technologies, where he held various leadership roles in IT and business operations.