Since the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, the pace and scale of digital transformation has accelerated at an unprecedented rate. As enterprises are moving towards adopting new technologies, the role of CIOs is getting even more prominent across diverse industries. There is urgency for them to drive all digitization initiatives to bolster the company’s growth.

A few years back, Chief Information Officers were hired by corporates to “keep the lights on” to reduce costs and maintain security. But, COVID has changed the rules of the game, as now CIOs enjoy the spotlight, managing all the significant responsibilities for a successful transition to automation and advanced robotics.

Without IT automation, business continuity would have become a distant dream during ‘the hardship year of 2020.’ The innovative technologies like RPA, intelligent automation, and Chatbot have helped employees and customers in this pandemic to resolve the issues created due to lack of labor. It has allowed CIOs to make decisions with the least human interaction daily.

In this ‘new normal’ market environment, CIOs’ role has become even more relevant than ever as businesses work to re-shape all their strategies. In fact, this is the time for the CIOs to shine with exponential responsibilities to drive business sustainability!

There is a need for agile responses in today’s remote working era, which pushes the urge for instant technology adoption further. In its latest study, Deloitte has confirmed that organizations in 2020 are looking out for CIOs who focus on foundational transformation over the incremental change.

The responsibilities of the CIOs are no more limited to hone strategies but also for managing the recovery. They are now made responsible for all tech-driven transformation to allow businesses to thrive in the unpredictable business landscape.

CIOs are now central to all business strategies and success, and this importance is going to only increase in the years to come. The math is simple; the more companies are reliant on technologies, the importance of the CIOs will keep boosting.

In fact, another report by Deloitte claims that around 50% of CEOs now see the position of the Chief Information Officer as the key driver of all business strategies in the next five years.

For a few businesses, the CIOs purview now includes scaling up all virtual event capacities, ensuring employee well-being, and comprehending plus catering to customer needs. The central part of a CIO’s job is to enable their people to match the customers’ evolving needs.

Organizational departments like marketing, finance, and sales typically swim in their individual lanes. But, IT is defined by the cross-functional perch to impact every part of the business operation.

This unique vantage point, backed by the COVID-led flush of tech opportunities, has indeed created new paths for the CIOs. The pandemic has given birth to a new breed of leaders, who stretch their tech expertise beyond their traditional domain to envision new business strategies to drive innovation and also execute the broader organizational transformation.

All of this helps companies charge paths and create a lasting competitive advantage that will continue to lead the way as the pandemic eventually subsides.

[Also Read: The Chase to Become an Autonomous Digital Enterprise Rules the Post-Pandemic Era ]

Such a change will require CIOs to advance their skillsets and better understand all digital technologies and seek the most cost-effective ways to operate them. They need to understand all specific business issues better, to better analyze how IT can drive new revenue enhancement opportunities.

CIOs should sharpen their business skills to build stronger relationships with the GMs and CEOs to help them collaborate as strategic partners. Also, the information officers holistically lead all transformation efforts, wearing multiple hats, including that of business strategies and ops change leaders.

Industries are witnessing a swing back towards IT leaders as decision-makers with automation and ITSM taking over. It has become increasingly evident that even the most operations-centric or CX-focused projects come back to IT for change implementation, management, and sustainment.

This is where CIOs have re-assumed their position as the key decision-makers assuring futuristic decision-making.

[Also Read: CIO’s Guide for RPA Evaluation ]

COVID has indeed evolved the way CIOs were visioned – from a mere support function into a business leader who disrupts the companies’ operations. It will not be an understatement to claim that no other job role has risen to such quick prominence, and been highly indispensable to the firms, than that of the CIOs in 2020.