The Evolution of the CIO Role: From Technology Provider to Strategic Advisor

Evolution of CIO

As the business landscape continues to evolve, so does the role of the Chief Information Officer (CIO). In recent years, the CIO role has undergone a significant shift from being merely a technology provider to operating as a strategic advisor, business partner, and enabler of new business models. This transformation has been driven by various factors, including the commercialization of technology, changing customer demands, and the need for digital transformation.

The Changing Landscape

In the past, the CIO’s main responsibility was to provide technology solutions and support the operational needs of the organization. However, with the advent of the digital era and the increasing reliance on technology, the CIO’s role has expanded to include strategic planning and decision-making. Today, CIOs are expected to contribute to the overall business strategy, identify innovative ways to leverage technology, and drive the transformation of new business models.

Influence on Customer Demand

One of the key drivers of the evolving CIO role is the commercialization of technology, particularly mobile technology. Customers now expect solutions to be available all the time and seamlessly integrated across various platforms, including mobile. As a result, IT has become an integral part of the product and service itself. CIOs are now responsible for ensuring that technology meets customer demands and drives customer satisfaction.

Adapting to the New Workplace Reality

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the shift in employee demands and work practices. A new generation of employees is reforming the way we work, and CIOs must have a digital transformation strategy in place to adapt to this new workplace reality and retain talent. This includes creating a digital workplace that optimizes and drives peak performance from modern employees. Achieving this requires a robust IT infrastructure and strategy that is agile, scalable, and leverages new technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and robotics.

The Role of Technology in Business Enablement

To effectively fulfill their new responsibilities, CIOs and their IT departments must create a digital workplace footprint that not only meets the requirements of the business but also enables and empowers employees. This is only possible with a strong IT infrastructure and strategy in place. The speed of innovation necessitates the definition of a business-enabling IT strategy that is agile, scalable, and leverages emerging technologies.

SAP Customer Priorities for 2023

For SAP customers, there are specific priorities and challenges that CIOs must address in the coming years. These priorities include:

1. SAP ECC Support Expiration

SAP customers must prepare for the expiration of mainstream maintenance for SAP Business Suite 7 core applications. While there may be a desire for an extension, it is unlikely that SAP will extend the deadline beyond 2027. CIOs should consider this deadline as final and start preparing now if they haven’t already. SAP may offer alternative support options, such as extended maintenance or customer-specific maintenance, to help customers during this transition.

2. Adoption of SAP S/4HANA

SAP’s agenda goes beyond migrating customers from SAP ECC to SAP S/4HANA. The company is aggressively positioning RISE, its cloud offering based on a subscription model. The adoption of S/4HANA is of utmost importance for SAP’s long-term financial plan and increased renewal revenue. CIOs should prioritize the adoption of S/4HANA and consider the benefits of migrating to the cloud-based RISE offering.

3. Cost Optimization and Efficiency

In the face of a potential recession and increased cost pressures, CIOs should focus on cost optimization and efficiency. Budgets may be slashed, and CIOs must find ways to do more with less. Leveraging technologies that enable faster and more efficient operations can help achieve cost optimization. This includes adopting automation tools and streamlining business processes to make work less complicated and more aligned with market demands.

4. Modernizing Cyber Defenses

With the increasing threat of cyberattacks, CIOs must prioritize modernizing cyber defenses. Investing in IT modernization is crucial to mitigate evolving cyber threats. Legacy IT systems present a significant challenge to security teams, and modernizing infrastructure and software development practices is essential to staying ahead of cyber threats. CIOs should consider increasing investments in IT modernization and adopting a built-in security infrastructure to protect their organizations.

5. Talent Acquisition and Retention

Hiring and retaining skilled IT talent continues to be a challenge for CIOs. With the Great Resignation and increasing competition for top talent, CIOs must find creative ways to attract and retain employees. Offering experience, exposure, training, or pay based on the value of the deliverable can be effective. Additionally, considering unconventional sources of talent, such as offshore contractors from India or other large and cost effective talent pools or even a OPEX based virtual captive at offshore, can help fill skill gaps and bring fresh perspectives to the organization.

Success Stories and Lessons Learned

To navigate these priorities and challenges, CIOs can learn from the experiences of other organizations. One success story comes from Schneider Electric, where CIOs are focused on transforming sales tracking processes and HR. By adopting simplified, modern CRM, ERP, and HR systems, Schneider Electric aims to be a partner in the business, driving resiliency, sustainability, and customer value. This transformation includes transitioning to the cloud, leveraging digital technologies, and creating smart, cyber-secure factories and distribution centers.
Another success story comes from a large North American bank that implemented ActiveControl’s DevOps technology to accelerate innovation across their IT landscape, including SAP. By automating change management and fostering collaboration between IT and business teams, the bank achieved faster and more reliable change delivery, supporting their business goals.


The role of the CIO continues to evolve as technology becomes increasingly integral to business operations and success. CIOs must adapt to the changing landscape by embracing their role as strategic advisors, business partners, and enablers of new business models. Prioritizing digital initiatives, supporting new business models, optimizing costs, modernizing cyber defenses, and acquiring and retaining talent are essential for CIOs to drive successful digital transformations and achieve desired outcomes for their organizations. By learning from success stories and lessons learned, CIOs can navigate the challenges and seize opportunities to lead their organizations into a future of innovation and growth.


*Disclaimer: The information presented in this article is based on various industry sources and does not reflect the opinions or views of Platinum Consultants, Spectr. Labs, or any specific organization mentioned.

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