It’s that time of year! The time when every prognosticator comes up with their predictions for the next year. And this year my colleague Pascal and I took the lead in developing our 2016 predictions for the CIO role.

Rather than call out banal and obvious trends I wanted to make a stronger call on the CIO role in particular. In part this is because so many people gleefully post blogs predicting the demise of the CIO. And in part simply because it sometimes feels like I see the role of the CIO differently to many; as first and foremost a business leader.

So will 2016 be the end of the CIO role as we know it?

“No" is my simple answer. In 2016 the Age Of The Customer will further accelerate the role of technology in creating new sources of customer value to drive revenue. As a result we’ll see more and more CEOs expecting their CIOs to help lead their firm toward a clear digital future.

CEOs realize that, increasingly, future growth is tied to their ability to continuously deliver new digital services that create value for customers – across both B2C and B2B business environments. But failure to meet evolving customer expectations will result in losing customers and ultimately lower revenue growth. Without a technology team focused on building the digital platforms of tomorrow, companies cannot hope to keep up with their evolving customer expectations. 2016 will be a pivotal year for CIOs and CEOs – one that will see a significant change in leadership thinking when it comes to a company’s technology capabilities and digital assets.

CEOs with the opportunity to replace retiring CIOs in 2016 will actively recruit more digitally-savvy technology leaders. Recruiters will seek out leaders able to combine business and marketing savvy with enough technology know-how to shine a light on the path to digital business. And some of these new, even more digitally-savvy customer-obsessed CIOs will come from inside the organization. While less forward-looking CEOs will continue to see their CIO as a technology custodian, I believe that by the end of 2016 they will be in the minority for the first time in decades. And the changes in the CEOs expectations will pressure incumbent CIOs to step up or risk being replaced.

As a generation of baby-boomer custodian CIOs retire, a new generation of more digitally-savvy CIOs will step into their place. No doubt many of today’s custodian CIOs will stay in a technology custodian role, albeit with a new title, and reporting to a new digital-savvy CIO. I believe this bifurcation of the technology leadership will give this new breed of CIOs the space they need to focus 80% of their time on business technology to create new sources of customer value and drive growth.

To read more about our predictions for the CIO role and what it means, see the November 2nd report “Predictions 2016: The New Breed Of CIO; How Digitally Savvy CIOs Obsessed With Customers Will Drive Growth."

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