The big three challenges faced by todays CIOs

Arthur Hu, CIO for Lenovo’s Solutions and Services Group, looks at the essence of the job today
Arthur Hu
A CIO works

The role of the CIO is expanding steadily, as technology becomes more central to business operations. Today’s CIOs are expected to make decisions on everything from digital transformation to the carbon footprints of data centres. Taking responsibility for so many different workstreams means that CIOs are more important to the organisation than ever before. Lenovo’s 2023 Global Study of CIOs found that nine out of ten IT leaders believe that they are busier than ever, and 84% believe they contribute to company success more than other C-Suite leaders.

The three biggest challenges facing today’s CIOs are how to handle the evolving digital workplace, how to implement AI effectively, and how to grapple with sustainability in tech. Thankfully, choosing the right tech investments can help.

Digital working

Technology is woven into every part of the modern workplace, functioning like a nervous system which joins together corporate strategy, operations, finance and innovation. This in turn loads more challenges onto CIOs, who are grappling with recruitment and retention (59%), managing a remote workforce (59%), and diversity, equity, and inclusion (55%). The technology environment is also changing, with employees now using two devices on average, combined with a sharp increase in ‘bring your own device’ usage.

For IT leaders, technology can help to bring simplicity to this shifting landscape. Optimising endpoints using one centralised platform helps to bring order to the chaos. This means that IT teams can focus on business-critical tasks, with end users enjoying a better experience, optimised by AI. Meanwhile, ‘as-a-service’ models offer the flexibility and simplicity to empower teams with the technology they need, in a simple, scalable pay-as-you-go model.

Enabling AI

The current boom in generative AI poses further challenges for CIOs: there is high expectation for organisations to engage proactively with AI, and for the technology to deliver business results, fast. The demand to engage with this emerging technology is very real, with 43% of CIOs saying they felt ‘urgent pressure’ to deal with AI.

But it’s not simply a case of buying solutions and sitting back and waiting for results: AI has to be used effectively. Edge computing technology helps to bring AI to the data source and will be hugely important for any organisations hoping to reap the benefits through cutting-edge applications such as virtual assistants, generative AI and computer vision. With edge computing, organisations can gain AI-powered insights right where data is created, which can be immediately used to improve outcomes across store aisles, manufacturing floors, hospital rooms and service desks all over the world.

Sustainability and IT

In previous decades, sustainability has not fallen within the traditional purview of IT leadership. But, thinking about environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues is yet another responsibility on the shoulders of today’s CIOs. 

With data centres responsible for up to 1.5% of global electricity use, it’s critical that CIOs engage with technologies such as water cooling to increase efficiency and reduce electricity demand. Decision-makers in IT must also be bold and move beyond the ‘make, use, destroy’ of the linear economy to the ‘design, use, return’ approach of the circular economy. Asset recovery services (ARS) will be key to this, helping to find the most efficient and clean ways to deal with hardware at the end of its service life, whether that’s using the parts in manufacturing, refurbishing, reusing or environmentally friendly scrappage. 

Meeting the challenge

Today’s CIO shoulders an increasing burden, spanning everything from DE&I to ESG, and CIOs face challenges that would have been almost unimaginable even a decade ago. Making smart tech choices can help CIOs to deal with these issues, and empower them to be of true value to the organisations which rely on them more than ever.

Written by
Arthur Hu
Written by
January 11, 2024