Main image of article Embrace Your CIO's Strategy in 2021 to Advance Your Career

It’s nice to think that simply doing your job and following your passion for technology will automatically boost your career. If you really want to accelerate things, though, make an effort to help the CIO achieve their strategic goals for your company—that will not only benefit the entire team, but also elevate your own standing. 

In addition, understanding the CIO’s overall mission (and the role of technology in boosting organizational performance) can help you demonstrate your strategic thinking during your future job interviews, separating you from a crowded field of applicants.

With all that in mind, here are four top priorities for CIOs in the coming year, along with some ways you can contribute or add value.

Expansion of Self-Service

The pandemic continues to impact the way that basic services are delivered to consumers. For example, the widespread adoption of telehealth, which had been progressing ever-so-slowly before the lockdown, explained Susan Snedaker, CIO of El Rio Health. In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2022, 85 percent of customer service interactions will start with self-service.

Many organizations are still searching for scalable, secure and effective self-service solutions—including your CIO, most likely. Showing you have a grasp on self-service technologies can make you a vital player at a crucial time, especially if you can devise practical roadmaps for adoption, transparency, and more.

Strategic Data Analytics

After making hefty investments in big data, CIOs will be tasked with using data to address specific business needs and outcomes going forward. For example, with data analytics, health organizations like El Rio may be better able to identify areas where patients are more likely to have certain medical conditions or gaps in care. How can you help your company achieve its mission through data? Become data literate.

Knowledge shouldn’t be limited to just analysts and data scientists; everyone in the organization needs to be data literate. Interestingly, 92.2 percent of executives in a recent survey cited people, business process and cultural aspects (not technology) as barriers to becoming a data-driven organization, opening the door for individual contributors to play in a role in the transformation. 

Unless you understand the analysis process, analytical tools and how to work with data, you won’t be able to collaborate with non-technical users or identify real business needs that can be solved through data and technology. By learning those processes and tools, though, you can assist all kinds of stakeholders—including your CIO—in making the business more incisive, which is a long-term win for you.

Secure Cloud Migration

Many organizations (95 percent, according to one survey) plan to make the ongoing migration of data, legacy apps and the adoption of SaaS solutions a priority in 2022. These complex operations require CIOs think about numerous factors, including cybersecurity. According to that same survey, only 54 percent of executives feel highly confident that they have the tools or skills they need to execute.

Bill Serva, VP of IT for Goodwill of Central and Northern Arizona, plans to implement a cloud-based document management system, transportation management system and a career pathing program for employees in addition to migrating from another provider to JIRA service management as a way to support, scale and facilitate the organization’s rapid growth. He says technologists can help by being flexible and positive change agents within their organizations.

Even as you embrace new changes in the workplace, you need to stay focused on your evolving job responsibilities and duties, he explained. Also, adapting quickly to changes that come with growth, such as the need for increased documentation, task delegation and knowledge sharing, is essential to reducing stress and fostering a positive, growth mindset.

Snedaker suggests that learning AWS or Azure and cloud security fundamentals, and potentially becoming certified in those platforms, can increase your value as cloud migration accelerates across industries, leaving some organizations’ data vulnerable to cyberattack.

Navigating Another Cultural Shift

After almost two years of remote work, and now returning to the office full-time or shifting to a hybrid model, many CIOs find themselves shepherding yet another cultural transition. Corporate culture is harder to feel and maintain through all the changes, and working in silos isn’t effective in IT. 

You can help by becoming a “culture contributor.” Team members need to collaborate and work together to drive project success. Be a team player, and help welcome, train and mentor new team members into the environment. Share ideas and knowledge willingly, boost morale, and most importantly, take it upon yourself to be a contributor to a positive team culture and environment. You might find yourself rewarded with a host of new opportunities.