Once primarily occupied with internal technology systems and supporting users of those systems, the CIO role has certainly changed over the last few decades. But most significant change has probably happened over the last 12 months, driven by circumstances. In that time, chief information officers have come to the rescue of organizations forced to operate in a new digital environment when so much of the physical environment shut down in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The changes hit so many parts of the business, from how customers buy to how customer service is delivered. Organizations shifted workers from offices to home offices, setting them up with the equipment and technology needed to work securely in a remote location. Businesses that used to sell exclusively or primarily from physical locations suddenly needed to explore an expanded ecommerce operation. Logistics and delivery operations were turned upside down as ecommerce became a primary way for customers to buy.
All these changes and more put CIOs and other IT leaders in an important and influential role if they weren't there already. Sure, these executives had already been trending toward becoming more important advisors to the rest of the C-suite over the years. But now digital had become the central way of doing business, not some side project that we could spread out over the next five years and pull funding from during a lean year.
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