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Logicalis: The role of the CIO has changed

There will be no going back to the world we all knew prior to the pandemic, with customers now looking for support delivering ever-faster innovation

No one knows what the future will bring, but one thing that is unlikely to happen is the clock being turned back to the way things were in 2019.

Too much has happened in the past couple of years to be reversed, and at a customer level, it has only accelerated trends that were in evidence before the pandemic hit.

Research from Logicalis has charted the shift from CIOs into more strategic roles as they came under pressure from their bosses to keep the pace of change high and innovation flowing.

That shift has also had an impact on those in the channel that support customers as they too need to help change continue – and protect customers while it is happening.

Toby Alcock, chief technology officer at Logicalis, said the demands on the CIO had changed in terms of what the business expects of them and the pace with which it needs to be delivered.

“More and more businesses are looking for the technology to be closer to their outcomes and to their customers, so the CEO is having to respond to that anyway, but I think it’s been accelerated through the pandemic,” he added.

“The rate of change and the acceptance of change has helped, but so too has the need to come up with more innovative ways to connect with customers during the pandemic, change and pivot the business, and drive new outcomes. That pressure has been on the CIO like never before.”

“Once a business gets used to seeing change being implemented quickly, it’s pretty hard to go back. They’re just used to things being turned on faster and faster”
Toby Alcock, Logicalis

With wholesale remote working, a rush to the cloud and huge increases in the adoption of software-as-a-service (SaaS) and collaboration tools, the impact on CIOs has been significant and the chances of it being unwound to a pre-pandemic state are slim.

“Once a business gets used to seeing change being implemented quickly, it’s pretty hard to go back and say, ‘this will take a year’ again. They’re just used to things being turned on faster and faster,” said Alcock.

“It’s not only the businesses that have moved on, but more importantly, their customers have moved on too. They know their customers don’t want to sit on the phone and be on hold for a call centre to answer, they want these multichannels of connectivity – WhatsApp, chatbots, self-service portals and things. If a business moves back to 2019, the customer will just...go to a competitor. The key is making sure we are delivering customer experience that is going to move forward,” he added.

The latest Logicalis survey, which is in its eighth year, looked at a number of areas and charted several ongoing changes in the role of those in charge of the IT departments at customers.

“The first part is talking about the changing role of the CIO becoming the architect or agent of change. The second part is talking about how unlocking data can drive the business strategy and accelerate growth. And then the third part is talking about this culture of innovation and how the digital workplace is really going to empower that culture of innovation in an organisation,” said Alcock.

“The fourth part of the survey talks about the CIO priorities and the key priorities we have seen from them – so business continuity, resilience and mitigating risk.”

Those changes will have an impact on those across the channel that support customers, and are being seen as a positive at Logicalis because it can help drive a more strategic conversation.

“That’s a really exciting opportunity for us as an organisation because we can pitch offerings at a higher value,” said Alcock. “A lot of technologies are sold based on product selling, selling what the label on the box tells you, which is pretty uninspiring really. What I like about it is that we’re [now] connecting the technology to the business outcome.”

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