CIOs in the next ten years: Politics and personality assessments become must-have CIO tools

Over the next decade, the CIO's job will dissolve into the business and take on many of the tasks typically performed by CEOs, CFOs, and even sales departments. This will not be so much of a  technology sprawl, as more of a responsibility sprawl that can be attributed to the pervasive spread of digital transformations into every aspect of a company.

No longer will the CIO be only concerned with data backups or IP phone systems -- more and more these will become expected utilities in the same manner as the lights are expected to click on or water is expected to flow in the restroom. This new omnipresent nature of the CIO is absolutely necessary to ensure all business elements run efficiently. In essence, the CIO will become an evangelist for transformations that empower the entire process from supply chains to Salesforce and ERP integrations.

The CIO Politicization

In order to successfully evangelize their visions, CIOs will adopt the role of "executive politician" -- their vision is the platform and every employee becomes their constituents. Just like any politician running on the political stage, CIOs can have the best ideas, but if not properly conveyed and the base "shored up," then these projects are destined to fail. lists five tips "to survive and thrive in your business," that reinforces this point:

  1. Always conduct yourself like the professional you are.
  2. Reach out to the right people for help.
  3. Find out who the key people are in your organization.
  4. Protect and defend your team.
  5. Don't ignore office politics, embrace it.

Tip number five will be the most important to practice and it starts at the top. This is not just an exercise of expanding political capital to push an agenda. Political influencing within an organization will continue to grow, but it must start with the CEO and work its way down through the ranks to employees, where team members -- at all levels -- realize they have a stake in this digital transformation process.

To prepare for their omnipresent role in the organization, CIOs will brush up on their advocacy skills. Gone are the days of the nerd in the corner, taking orders to make sure the phones work correctly. To be a good CIO in the future will be to embrace a new digital "lift and shift" age with a different set of soft skills.  The successful CIO will find that a significant portion of his or her job will reside within the art of conversations and being present at a personal level vs. merely reviewing reports from the office desk. In order to evangelize the CIO’s status of the business enabler, they must strive to understand the working environments of sales, marketing, finance and human resources to effectively capture their pain points and address them through new platforms. An effective recipe to get CIOs ready for this intense political arena will be to embrace these qualities: One third Steve Jobs, one third Sun Tzu (Art of War) and one third Dennis Miller.

Get Ready for "Emotional Intelligence"

In addition to becoming the CIO politician, over the next five to ten years these individuals will engage in "emotional intelligence" as well.  Emotional intelligence is the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one's emotions as well as to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically. As the millennial workforce continues to overtake and eventually dominate the corporate landscape, how a CIO understands the emotional construct of new employees and maps this intangible element to required job capabilities, will become invaluable.

A 1998 Harvard Business Review article asked, "What Makes a Leader?" In this article, Rutgers University professor Daniel Goleman said, "The most effective leaders are alike in one crucial way: They all have a high degree of what has come to be known as emotional intelligence. It’s not that IQ and technical skills are irrelevant. They do matter, but mainly as ‘threshold capabilities’; that is, they are the entry-level requirements for executive positions."

There is a distinct difference between a leader and a boss. CIOs will identify these threshold capabilities in order to maintain effective leadership -- because tomorrow's technology recruits will not solely be advanced on meeting the technical perspectives of an HR requisite alone.  Soon, CIO's will be able to identify, measure and gauge the levels of a person's optimism and confidence in order to accurately assess the cultural fit as well as target advancement opportunities.

A gauge for emotional intelligence is a must-have tool in the CIO's belt because the millennial generation is not completely driven by money when determining their employment. In order to attract and keep the best and brightest technology talent, CIOs must accurately convey the experience and engagement aspects of the company in order to prevent the most desirable talent from being employed by competitors.

Being aware of emotional intelligence is another way the CIO role will evolve. To prepare for this, CIOs will become educated by taking specific courses on leadership to understand how emotional intelligence fits into a team environment. Gaining these skills will become increasingly important as we approach 2030 and even onto 2060, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that, "The share of the 16 to 24-year-olds in the labor force is expected to decrease during the 2015-60 projections period." This means that the talent pool of young workers with the most desirable technology skills will shrink. If CIOs lack the skills to emotionally identify with tomorrow’s workforce, competitors will capture them.


Ten years from now, CIOs will look back and admire many aspects of their jobs as much simpler, the same way CIOs look back at 2010 and think, "I remember when I did not have to deal with all that!" Even now, the role of CIOs is like a coat rack: they must hold many different types of hats designed for specific jobs -- that are all applicable for accomplishing their projects. Finance, HR, marketing and sales were all once siloed roles in the enterprise that now have portions dissolved into the CIO’s responsibilities.

CIOs must prepare now for continued lobbying across all facets of an organization in order to achieve approval and adoption of efficiency advancements that only they can truly foresee at its drawing-board infancy. Along the way, they must also develop skills to tap into and cultivate, the emotional capital that will drive the business to new heights. Indeed, the CIO’s role has become the one pillar that if removed, will result in the corporate foundation becoming severely compromised. 

Image credit:  Panchenko Vladimir / Shutterstock

As Chief Technology Officer of Sparkhound, Jonathan Meyers oversees all client development, growth, digital transformation, marketing, and alliances. Based in Houston, Jonathan has been partnering with clients for 20 years to develop and implement solutions for customer engagement, sales, process and operations improvement driven by data, analytics, IoT and broader technology platforms and solutions.Over the course of his career, he has worked with Fortune 500 enterprises and middle market clients in telecommunications, oil & gas, petrochemicals, healthcare, manufacturing, and consumer goods.


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