Using CIO Priorities to Boost Your Career

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In most organizations, the CIO’s agenda not only impacts the annual budget, but project schedules and even the duties and skill requirements for department staff. Consequently, making an effort to understand your CIO’s strategic and technical priorities can help you plan and execute a series of advantageous career moves.

For instance, a Gartner survey shows that CIOs will allocate an average of 18 percent of their budget toward building a digital ecosystem in 2017, and 28 percent in 2018. At the same time, Accenture warns that the transition to new types of technology is creating a shortage of professionals with data analytics, Agile and partner-based collaboration skills. Volunteering to assist the CIO with their mission may give you the opportunity to acquire sought-after competencies.

What’s on your CIO’s agenda? Here’s a look at some of their top priorities that could impact your career.

Cloud Services

Migrating data and applications to the cloud continues to be a top priority for CIOs, according to numerous surveys. Although the maturity level of cloud initiatives varies greatly by organization, according to a recent tech forecast from Computerworld, the shift has already eliminated some jobs and is radically altering others.

Take the case of Legal Services Corporation (LSC), where a pair of systems administrators left after CIO Peter Campbell announced that the firm would migrate from an SQL platform to the cloud. Although some key employees departed, the firm’s developers seized the opportunity to build out a grants management program on the Salesforce platform and acquire other state-of-the-art skills.

“We became a learning organization in response to the change,” Campbell explained. “Bringing our existing staff into the procurement process created growth opportunities [and] promotions, as well as new responsibilities. Now, we’re focused on user training and adoption.”

Succession Planning and Leadership Development

With CIOs from the Baby Boomer generation set to retire, succession planning and leadership development have become top priorities, especially in higher education, explained Tom Danford, who provides executive leadership to numerous colleges and universities as CIO for CampusWorks.

Indeed, data from Vell Executive Search shows that 76 percent of CIOs are between the ages of 45 and 54, and that larger companies tend to appoint older CIOs, with 65 percent age 50 or older.

As companies focus more time and effort on identifying and developing future leaders, there may never be a better opportunity to plot a path to the top. Not sure where to start? Danford suggests that acquiring “critical thinking, problem solving and communication skills can give you a competitive advantage” if you’re looking to move up.

Security and Risk Management

Many CIOs list meeting security, privacy or compliance goals as their top priorities for the year. However, because employers are struggling to find qualified professionals for secure software development, intrusion detection, and analyst and attack-mitigation roles, many small- and mid-size companies are turning to Security-as-a-Service, an outsourcing model for security management, for solutions.

Although many companies are investing in training and technology to address the skills shortage in-house, you may want to consider working for an outsourced provider. The U.S.-based Security-as-a-Service market is estimated to grow from $3.12 billion in 2015 to $8.52 billion by 2020.

IT Governance

Deciding how to allocate expenditures and juggle competing priorities will be paramount for CIOs this year, as 59 percent of those executives recently told Computerworld that their budgets will remain the same or decrease. Moreover, 47 percent of CIOs list improving employee productivity and efficiency as a top priority.

“Getting involved with the IT governance process and understanding how a CIO prioritizes expenditures can enhance your career in many respects,” Danford noted. For instance, learning about the business side of tech can help you prepare for a management role, while working on high-profile projects that deliver significant ROI can increase your visibility within the organization.

Improving the Customer Experience

Many CIOs have set their sights on improving the customer experience as part of a concerted effort to deliver additional value and impact to their organizations. In fact, Deloitte’s global CIO survey reveals that 57 percent view customers as their top business priority.

From a career standpoint, the movement will spawn greater investments in Big Data and CX technologies, as well as the creation of an overarching strategy that will change the way you work in 2017 and beyond.

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