Home CIO Insight View from Top: Biggest Challenges for CIOs

View from Top: Biggest Challenges for CIOs


The word Chief is always costly in nature, fancy in features but challenging and dynamic in reality. On a lighter note the typical definition of IO is Inside/Outside but technically it means Information office where the individual is answerable within the company and outside the company. Overall the role of CIO is exciting to explore both business and technical aspects but this always comes with some challenges. From my perspective below are the major challenges the CIO may come across.

Business Alignment

Alignment is very important and has more significance in corporates. For example if the car wheel alignment is not proper, we can experience driving issue, the same goes true with the organization. If the CIO is not aligned with company’s strategy, then it’s a flop show. CIO role bringing very challenging and dynamic in nature, he should align his strategy to company’s vision and mission.

From the outside world people always think that the CIO is only responsible for technical topics, which is valid for to some extent but the reality is without business, IT doesn’t exist. Primary focus should be on how to enable business using IT.IT being a support function getting budget and support from the top management will be the real skill of the CIO. So how do we overcome this issue, the only answer is to show the cost benefit analysis or ROI and aligning over views to company’s views.

IT (Innovation & Transformation)

IT is coined as Information Technology as we all know, but currently in the industry, Innovation and Transformation are the key words where CIO is forced to focus on. Business expectations have changed, there is lot of technological advancement, customer demands, competition is at peak which forces the CIO to think from traditional Information Technology to Innovation & Transformation. We are in the age where search engine companies are working towards building autonomous driving cars. Look at the innovation and transformation the companies are heading towards.

In the current CIO role, if the thinking is traditional IT, it will not take much time for the business to close. As an example we can see many top companies are closing their doors because of lack of innovation or not gearing up to the market speed. So any organization shall think towards innovation and transformation which can help the business to achieve its numbers (Profit & Loss)and to keep stakeholders happy.

Security first, privacy must

If we look at the current attack vectors, we always have a doubt whether we are already targeted or when will we be. Every day there is news about some attacks happening across the world. Security being one of the primary concern for CIO, he can’t take any chances. It’s a game of hit or get out. If for some reason there is an attack organization may end up losing millions of dollars, on top of that reputation loss cannot be calculated. From my perspective security shall be included from the base i.e., from development stage, employment recruitment, physical or logical levels. Tiered architecture can protect organization to a greater extent. Security is a journey not a destination.

Privacy by meaning is confidential in nature. So how do we protect privacy of our employees, customer, partners, and stakeholders? Being the CIO of an organization, it’s his responsibility to define policies and to enable relevant projects so that privacy can be obtained.

Finally the above top 3 are not the only challenges. Change is constant, priorities change, organizations objective changes, so do challenges.

By: Srinivas Thimmaiah
Project Manager – InfoSec,
Mercedes Benz R&D India

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