The CIO role is moving from a back office support to being a driver of success in the organisation.

Only one third of CIOs have been in their current role for less than 2 years, according to the 2016 Harvey Nash survey.

CIOs and organisations cannot predict where the CIO role will lead to with changing job titles and business models coming into play. CIO UK looks at how the CIO could prioritise their responsibilities in the ever-changing role in the next 12 months, with discussions from CIOs on where the role will be. (See also: 2017 key indsutry trends for CIOs.)

Where will the role of a CIO be in the next 12 months: A strategic business leader

Technology is more than ever playing a vital part in the business strategy, with a Chief Information Officers being at the forefront of the digital change.

Almost three-quarters of CIOs expect their strategic influence to grow in 2016, by aligning their business mindset with a technology strategy.  

The role change has been cited by a number of CIOs developing skill sets while also gaining experience on the go, and BT Business CIO Colin Lees has seen his role having more opportunities in driving value to the business.

“I think one word to describe the role over the next 12 months would be exciting, he said. “I think the role would be the bridge between the business and technology because of the advances in technology happening in all industries with the role only going to become more important.”

BT Business’ Colin Lees has seen his role transition from a software engineer to a CIO; while also having seen other organisations combine the role of a CIO.

“I think they are lots of different labels used for CIOs today. Whether you are a CIO, CTO or CDO those are almost interchangeable ways. If you work in technology it will be a fascinating place to be.”

A CIO's versatility in skills and experience can lead to adding credibility and value in their role by adapting to the business environment, over the next 12 months.

Where will the CIO role be over the next 12 months: Better engagement

CIOs today are responsible for handling data, managing teams and communicating with vendors. The role has enabled a greater opportunity for CIOs to develop skills while being vigilant to achieve its set goals.

While a salary increase and being valued as a key player can help a CIO stay engaged businesses need to motivate their digital leaders in order to retain their talent.

Businesses need to motivate their digital leaders through recognising their achievements and valuing their CIOs as a key player within the organisation in order to retain their talent.  While a salary increase and encouraging employee training can be a gesture for hard work, listening and communicating with the digital leader will be more substantial.

Where will the CIOs be over the next 12 months: Collaboration

As the CIO role has become more established in business operations; communication and collaboration are vital to help get the best out of an employees’ abilities.

CIOs are now taking the steps to build relationships outside of IT with customers, network groups and vendors to develop their experience for further opportunities in the organisation.

In essence, CIOs are managing and monitoring all aspects of the business, and Jonathan Monk will see his role as a CIO become more about collaboration and less about management at The University of Dundee.

“It is about being visible with the business,” he said. “They need someone they can trust to work with them on solving problems rather than telling someone they cannot do something. IT is cohesive in almost every aspect of our life so as a CIO to be at the table having a conversation on projects while also working with our partners on areas where we can improve and help deliver the outcome that the university and business leaders are looking for. “

The University of Dundee is currently halfway through replacing its core network infrastructure, led by CIO Monk, and has already seen vast improvements in performance and an overall better student engagement.

“They are very few problems the IT department cannot solve on their own but it has to be a collaboration and partnership with the challenges now being woven throughout all of the business,” he said.

The building of relationships with executives, digital teams and other business departments can help CIOs to gain a better insight into fellow roles while also motivating them to achieve the shared business goal.

Where will the role of a CIO be in the next 12 months: Managing talent

A concern for CIOs is finding and manging talent with 44% of executives expecting their digital leaders to increase their IT team size in 2017.

Many organisations are actively seeking skilled talent in digital trends such as artificial intelligence, DevOps and IoT.

A CIO’s old priorities have seen a decline with 9 out of the 10 having decreased in importance, according to the 2016 Harvey Nash survey with the role becoming primarily focused on leading their digital team for change.

The skills shortage has remained the biggest challenge for CIOs in digital disruption. CIOs should see IT talent as a platform for driving change in the organisation with technology helping to innovate the business. A great focus on finding talent is getting executives to invest in crowdsourcing, placements as well as rotating and recruiting staff from outside IT.

Where will the CIO role be over the next 12 months:  Monitoring security

Security will remain a priority for businesses and digital leaders today, as big organisations become more prone to cyber-attacks.

The issue is featured more frequently in the news with CIOs protecting its customers and the business on a routine basis.

According to The Global State of Information Security Survey 2016, 24% of businesses increased their security budgets last year. An effective CIO will have a security strategy in place which will align technology and information security to help prevent the risk of hacking.  

The UK government recently invested in a £1.9 bn cyber security strategy, which aims to protect the UK and businesses online. CIO 100 organisations including Manchester City Council, University of Westminster and Essex County Council have invested heavily in security systems.

The increase of security has seen many organisations adopt a strategic approach to ensure information is protected, and Group CIO Kevin Murray has taken a ‘global approach’ to help manage security risk at AXA UK & Ireland.

“To manage (security risk) I have employed a Head of Information Security who reports directly to me and is given a significant budget each year to test and improve the controls we have,” he said.

Murray describes how security is one of the key risks are recorded and monitored at a global and local level ensuring it is discussed at every IT board meeting and executive risk committee.

The insurance organisation has also invested significantly in its external auditing and testing of its information security controls, results are fed directly back into its information security strategy.

CIOs should outline a clear security plan to ensure employees are aware of the possible risks and prevent a security breach.

Where will the role of a CIO be in the next 12 months: Building a relationship with customers

The communication and engagement between CIOs and customers are fundamental in adding to a CIO’s skills set.

A CIO should have a great understanding of the customer’s needs; while also keeping up with their digital demands in meeting the customer’s expectations from the over product and service.

The CIO can build a relationship with the Chief Marketing Officer in order to gain an insight into the consumer’s behaviour on how to improve the company strategy.

The evolvement of technology has seen a greater demand from customers in wanting constant engagement, personalisation and a quicker response rate to their queries.

Virgin Trains have recently deployed artificial intelligence with CIO John Sullivan leading the digital team and seeing his CIO role "leading” the business.

"I think the role will continue to be more business focused and less technical,” he said. I think the role is clearly about leadership and effective business processes.”

Virgin Trains are using digital technology to make an “easier and smoother” journey for its customers, with CIO Sullivan seeing “vast improvements” in the customer journey.

“We have got to sell what we can do with digital technology and deliver it to the customers. CIO's talk about project process and policies, which is important, but what is far more important is people engagement. It’s not just about having a better engagement with executives and the organisation or having real business experience but it is overall about ‘getting to know the customer’ in regards to customer data and digital innovation.

”The CIO role will further increase the importance of being a key member of the board. I hope we will start to see CIO’s becoming CEO’s, which I believe is only a matter of time.”

A CIO’s engagement with consumers can help outline the business strategy for future IT budgets, objectives and digital investments within the 12 months.

Yeovil Hospital is currently implementing a paperless system for the staff and its patients, becoming one of the most digitally advance Trusts in the UK.

Chief Information Officer Jason Maclellan of the Trust is currently leading the IT team to the digital transition, which will save the hospital £27.5 million.

Speaking to CIO UK CIO Jason Maclellan, discussed how his role is different to fellow CIO roles in seeing a "higher pressure" in regards to working with patients in the healthcare sector.

“For me (the role) will be outside of the hospital,” he said. “The technology is there to implement with many other organisations having done so but there are often difficulties which have prevented us to do it.”

Yeovil Hospital sees the Trust having two digital leading roles with Chief Clinical Information Officer Dr Anthony Smith sharing responsibility with CIO Maclellan in improving the patient's journey. (See also: Chief Clinical Information Officer job description and salary)

CIO Maclellan and CCIO Smith oversee the digital team and how they utilise digital technology in making it adaptable to the healthcare environment. 

CIO Maclellan sees his role over the next 12 months will be about “educating and building relationships” with the Trust partners and providers; in “moving forward” Yeovil’s Hospitals business agenda.

The CIO role aligns with technology in being unpredictable in its next move. Over the next 12 months, a CIO's role will accommodate to the customer's needs and demands for digital technology.