Tech Quarterly

Essential CIO insights from Q2 21

In this Tech Quarterly

We look at the list of the 50 most innovative CIOs who are redefining the role and helped steer their businesses through the challenges of the pandemic over the past year. In addition, experts at MIT Sloan say the pandemic accelerated changes to the CIO role that were already under way, with tech chiefs now increasingly expected to develop consumer-like tech for customers and employees. There is positive news on the hiring front too, with CIOs set to ramp up numbers of full-time tech staff this year. And CIOs reveal the oldest tech they’ve had to deal with in the workplace.

5 minute read

Andy McCue

Senior Editor

July 2, 2021 6:07 pm

1. The 50 tech leaders redefining the CIO role and driving game-changing innovation

Forbes has unveiled its inaugural CIO Next list of the top CIOs who came to the rescue of the business world in 2020 and who have been at the forefront of driving digital transformation during the pandemic. Some of the names to make the list include Rob Alexander, CIO at Capital One; Amy Farrow, CIO at Lyft; Suresh Kumar, global CTO at Walmart; and Angela Yochem, chief transformation and digital officer at Novant Health.

2. Pandemic rewrites CIO job description

The pandemic has accelerated changes to the CIO role in many organisations, according to tech chiefs speaking at an MIT Sloan School of Management CIO symposium. According to a writeup of the event in The Wall Street Journal, IT leaders are now increasingly expected to develop more consumer-like technologies for both customers and employees. “IT leaders are designing the future version of the organisation,” said Vipin Gupta, CIO of Toyota Financial Services, the vehicle financing arm of carmaker Toyota.

3. British unicorn Gymshark appoints former Burberry tech chief as CTO

Fitness clothing company Gymshark has appointed John Douglas as CTO, replacing Chris Perrins. Douglas’ CV includes CTO roles at fashion label Tory Burch, MCM Fashion Group and Burberry. Douglas will be responsible for building an enterprise and digital architecture to enable the fitness brand’s international growth. Last year, Gymshark became just the second British company to achieve the fabled $1 billion unicorn status.

4. Gartner: More than half of CIOs plan to increase full-time IT staff numbers in 2021

According to a survey by Gartner, 55 per cent of CIOs say they plan to increase their total number of full-time employees in IT this year to help accelerate digital initiatives, automate business operations and increase cloud adoption. However, while security, remote work tech, analytics and cloud will be in-demand skills, the survey shows a decrease in IT staffing numbers for areas such as the data centre, networks, systems administration and applications maintenance. “The critical role IT played across most firms’ response to the pandemic appears to have had a positive impact on IT staffing plans,” said Matthew Charlet, research VP at Gartner. “The initial pessimism around the 2021 talent situation that many CIOs expressed mid-2020 has since dwindled.”

5. CIOs talk vintage workplace tech

In a tribute to old – even antique – IT systems, CIO Dive asked eight tech chiefs to stroll down memory lane and remember old tech they encountered in their careers. Think mainframes, COBOL, databases and Y2K. One exec remembers an IBM mainframe s/390 G3 that was “the size of a refrigerator, water-cooled and did not support TCP/IP communications”.

6. Remote working, digital transformation push cybersecurity to top of agenda for UK CEOs

The rapid pace of digital transformation due to the pandemic has pushed cybersecurity to the top of the agenda for UK CEOs. According to PwC’s 24th annual CEO Survey, 91 per cent of UK CEOs are concerned about cyber threats (up from 80 per cent last year) and 67 per cent plan to increase long-term investment in cybersecurity and data protection.

7. How Estonia’s CIO is innovating rapidly to fight the pandemic and improve citizens’ lives

Estonia has long been at the forefront of digital government. The country’s tech chief tells I-CIO.com how tech supported the national effort during the COVID-19 pandemic, how Estonia is looking to advance its status as a leading e-state, and the way AI could transform the delivery of government services.

8. Forrester: Three-quarters of European CIOs are underprepared for automation

Analyst Forrester predicts that employment protection initiatives instituted during the pandemic will diminish incentives and further delay CIOs’ plans for automation across Europe. This is despite the fact that 76 per cent of European organisations are already underprepared for automation, compared to 65 per cent in Asia Pacific and 73 per cent in North America. The report also found that just 20 per cent of European business leaders can clearly articulate how automation could improve their business processes.

9. CIO interview: Richard Corbridge of Boots

The Boots CIO talks about making the switch from director of innovation back to the CIO role and how the pharmacy-led health and beauty retailer has been successful in its transition to e-commerce, with several digital initiatives spun up to continue offering services to customers during the pandemic.

10. The questions that boards should be asking their CIOs

Better boards will be leaning on CIOs to guide their firms well. And great CIOs will be ready with the right answers to tough questions. Diginomica picks out the questions to kickstart great thinking and great things. Topics include the future of work, strategic IT vendors, smart technologies and IT support for CSR.

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