As CIOs have taken on increased business responsibilities, their skill sets have started to evolve.

CIOs are now being given the opportunity to increase revenues as strategic business partners rather than just technology leaders. The transformation of business, technology and IT departments has seen 40% of CIOs having the platform as a digital leader to influence change in the organisation, according to Gartner.

But the CIO still needs to demonstrate strategic business skills. A CIO needs to look beyond the role of technology, looking at the the customer perspective and create a better experience for their users and consumers. CIO UK looks at how a CIO can become an influential figure in the boardroom and become a strategic business partner.

CIO as a strategic business partner: Challenges for a strategic leader

Business leadership skills can be challenging for a CIO. Creating a strategic technology vision for the company is a complex and creative process for a CIO.

Engagement with in IT is crucial for executives and staff to embrace new technologies being implemented.

CIOs can play an active role in the business strategy by raising any future issues technology has and any concerns over IT effectiveness. CIOs can engage the business through presentations and workshops of how technologies will benefit the organisation.

The pressure on CIOs to become strategic thinkers, looking at the resources for employees, can help create a vision for IT. The role has seen the CIO expand from IT and taking some of the responsibilties of a CEO. The modern CIO can be hiring IT talent, implementing IT strategies and reducing costs increasing their chance to be a potential business partner.

The role development for a CIO will see a CIO advance against fellow executives with having a better knowledge of the business strategy. But it can be a challenge for IT directors, with some research showing 13% have a lack of time when acting as a strategic partner to oversee IT projects.

CIO as a strategic business partner: Skill sets

The future of the CIO role looks promising with 57% of CIOs now sitting in the executive boardroom, according to the 2016 Harvey Nash survey. While in the 2016 CIO 100 56% of CIOs now report to their organisation's CEO.

Research has shown the most important skills a CIO can have are leadership, analysis, strategic vision and communications. The changing technology leadership landscape has led to old priorities of IT management declining and an increasing alignment with business goals.

A modern CIO now spends at least one day per week outside of IT. The repositioning of the company structure has seen the CIO go from handling IT operations to having a business mind-set.

A CIO's responsibility is not only to produce new IT products and services but also to reduce costs. The CIOs role has become dynamic in building relationship with the marketing, finance and HR departments with a cross over in skills.

CIO as a strategic business partner: Vision for improvement

The CIO can make an effective change in managing IT across the organisation. A CIO can engage all the staff in the business about how technology can improve their effectiveness. A better understanding of the products and a stronger background in IT will motivate staff of how it will add value to the company.

CIO 100 member John Linwood is CTO and CIO of Wood Mackenzie, and he is using his proximity to the CEO and the way he communicates with other executives to influence the organisation’s business strategy.

He said: “I report to the CEO having moved technology from being a back office function to becoming a partner to the business, helping shape solutions based on outcomes instead of simply implementing business-provided specifications.”

CIO Linwood has also taken an ‘active role’ in product innovation and securing executive support for the strategic value of technology.

He said that he was able to get board level buy-in through communicating to executives the strategic value of technology to the business.

“I sit on the company’s investment committee which signs off all capital investment and this gives me a great opportunity to influence the business too,” he added.

The CIO's seat at the strategy table will increase their leadership skills. The CIO can become a dynamic figure in the enterprise in building relationships and taking risks with innovative tech projects. The digital agenda has enabled the CIO to move away from day-to-day IT tasks to creating a business strategy through customer engagement, resources and investments.