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Business technology is evolving, with cloud services, apps and mobile enabling companies to move faster and become more agile. In response, IT leaders are reshaping how they operate, and taking the opportunity to steer their business through its digital transformation.

The new IT leader is one with a deep understanding of business as well as IT trends and operations. They embrace the opportunities modern technology gives their team to be proactive, align with the business and customer needs, and stay on top of digital trends like mobile, cloud and social media-centric computing.

The CIO 100 Awards champions one hundred clear illustrations of innovative IT leaders who are pioneering digital transformation in their organisations and industries.

For example, Save the Children’s CIO, Andy Williams, has turned a large charity with little IT ambition into a technology-attuned organisation with IT at the heart of its value chain. Some of his team’s successful initiatives include digital web-based fundraising platforms, designed to open up new donor markets, and the reinvention of key services such as cash and voucher distribution with mobile cash tools.

He also introduced data analytics, visualisation and mapping tools to amass information about donors and donor grants across 55 countries – a move that regional finance leaders say halves the time they need to assemble their reports. It’s starting to deliver valuable new insights, says the organisation.

In food retail, Colin Rees, CIO of Domino's Pizza, introduced one-touch digital ordering, and an interactive pizza tracker. Rees also pioneered The Button - a physical device the customer can use to press anywhere in their house for their food to be delivered.

And in construction and engineering, Richard Gifford, CIO and transformation director for Carillion, is bringing in IoT sensors embedded in concrete to determine thermodynamic characteristics in order to produce a higher-quality product for its B2B customers, and a more efficient operation.

Gifford also drove cultural change by bringing in a digital workplace, enabling staff to work collaboratively from any location.

Salesforce Research, which surveyed more than 2,200 global IT leaders and CIOs for its 2016 State of IT Report, which says, “IT leaders are reshaping how they operate. Successful IT teams must now be proactive, aligned with customer needs, and on top of digital trends like mobile.”

The report also discusses the growth in new job titles outside traditional IT, such as Chief Digital Officer, and Chief Data Officer, which combine elements of IT, business, operations, marketing and strategy, often having a customer/employee-centric focus.

This is evidence of both the relevance of technology, and IT functioning as part of a wider team. It also points to an opportunity for career progression for traditional IT leaders.

Another function of the new IT leader is to understand today’s workforce, work more closely with line of business and teams of employees, and innovate change in the organisation through new apps and workflows.

Today’s IT leaders know that training and developing employees is essential; and that it’s important to give them the right tools and technologies to develop their own apps and bring transformation through innovation. Successful companies are using app-based training and better tools to bridge the skills gap, notes the State of IT Report.

Recognising this trend is particularly important when it comes to attracting and training today’s digitally literate employees. Millennials, who represent a fast-growing demographic, particularly expect the business to provide cloud and mobile technologies that have the same level of usability and functionality as their personal devices and technologies. They want greater collaboration and more flexible working - including home-working - and more use of videoconferencing in meetings.

By harnessing the app revolution, IT leaders can drive the sort of change that is required in their organisation. Salesforce App Cloud is an example of a Platform-as-a-Service ecosystem that is ideal for IT leaders, because it can be used for building, discovering and running all of the business’ apps.

Using App Cloud, apps can be built quickly by anyone, including non-technical LOB admins, using drag and drop features such as Lightning App Builder  and Lightning Process Builder.

By giving the workforce the tools they need to create the cloud-based apps they require to do their job, IT can empower LOB employees. In addition, development teams can rapidly create apps at code level, allowing them to be change agents as well.

These are exciting times for the new breed of IT leaders, who can show their organisations the way to business transformation through mobile and cloud business apps. It means they can pioneer change whilst retaining a position of strategic oversight as employees contribute their own innovation to the business.