The Role of CIOs in Modern Business (and Why You Should Never Stop Learning)

March 21, 2023 | New Workplace Leadership | 4 min read

Business and technology have become inseparable, with the latter playing an increasingly critical role in shaping the former. New technologies are disruptive, but they also bring great opportunities.

As a result, companies across the globe now rely heavily on e-commerce platforms, cloud-based services, and AI to drive innovation, enhance productivity, and achieve their business objectives.

Technology has transformed how businesses operate, communicate, and interact with people. At the heart of this transformation is the Chief Information Officer (CIO), who stands at the crossroads of business strategy and technological innovation. The CIO must balance the needs of the company, the employees, and the information and technology that are vital to the modern working world.

CIOs direct technological innovation and people to effectively manage business strategy, data literacy, and more. Being effective in this role helps drive transformation and allows organizations to thrive in an increasingly technology-driven world, where everyone works together to achieve common goals that are aligned to company priorities.

Success in the modern business world depends on the organization's ability to optimize across people, processes, technology, and data. To successfully lead their organizations, CIOs must chart a path toward the integration of business and technology. And, one of the most effective ways to achieve this integration is to develop a culture of learning.

Transforming an organization hinges on the CIO's ability to take what they learn and adapt their strategies to accomplish goals. Adopting a mindset of continual learning can make all the difference.

Read Next: What Do Great Leaders Have in Common, and How Do You Nurture More of Them?

How to Affect Change as the CIO

Learning and development should be a core focus for CIOs – both for themselves and their teams. Through a robust learning and development program, CIOs can build a fused organization where the business and technology strategies are one and the same.

Learning fosters curiosity and stokes the desire for continual learning, while ongoing training helps to build knowledgeable, resilient, and adaptable teams who can work cross-functionally and drive change at scale.

This takes an individual who is engaged, curious and comfortable with technology but can also build strong partnerships across complicated business environments.

A CIO must be comfortable with the following:

  • Experimenting
  • Speaking truth to power
  • Facing confrontation with grace

When an organization works in unison and free of silos, strategy aligns and goals are achieved. However, promoting this unity requires effective communication. IT and business stakeholders need to share ideas without reservation. Otherwise, intentions can become confused, goals languish, and strategy needs redevelopment.

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5 Tips to Foster a Culture of Learning at Work

Driving transformational change across an organization is difficult, but it gets easier if the employees — including your C-suite peers — embrace a learning mindset.

At the most basic level, you can look at it like this:

Technology will never wait for us to catch up. We must ensure our teammates have the information and skills they need to keep pace.

Ultimately, because technology keeps evolving, you must continuously learn how to drive change successfully. There is no “finish line” in being a learning-centered organization. It takes commitment and long-term investment in learning and development programs, but it's worth the effort with results like constant innovation, highly skilled talent, and a more satisfied workforce.

Here are 5 best practices for creating a learning culture and mitigating the disruption that can come with being a change agent:

1. Reward learning.

Enforce the value of learning by using positive affirmations and good-natured competition. Then, recognize and celebrate successes. At monthly team meetings, leaders at Skillsoft recognize the achievements of their staff who dedicated the time to earn a new badge or learn a new skill.

2. Make resources available for all employees.

Availability becomes even more important in remote or hybrid work environments and for those organizations that span time zones. By offering resources that accommodate location and time, mobile devices, work and lifestyle preferences, it builds bridges to learning.

Read 4 tips for encouraging your teams to learn and practice their skills at work.

3. Give employees time and space to learn.

At Skillsoft, our employees have time blocks during their week to learn. What's more, departments set goals for learners to earn badges or work toward a set number of learning hours, ensuring employees know this is a part of their role and benefits their career and the greater organization.

See how T-Mobile improved adoption of cybersecurity training here >

4. Adopt a dynamic learning solution.

Not everyone learns the same way. Some prefer self-paced courses or modules, whereas others would rather sit in a live class with their peers. It's important to offer a solution that can work for everyone.

Read 3 considerations for developing tech training programs >

5. Turn failures into successes.

Not everything always goes as planned. We must understand that other initiatives or priorities may slow our efforts. But failure is not the end. Often, it's the beginning. Position failure as an opportunity to learn and improve. Model this for your team.

Read next:5 Ways to Empower Your Team in the New Year While Tackling Business Objectives

Are CIOs Facing a Skills Crisis?

CIOs, CTOs, CISOs, and 200+ C-level tech leaders shared their insights in Skillsoft’s annual IT Skills and Salary survey — revealing a pressing skills crisis in critical areas of business, including cybersecurity, data science, and artificial intelligence.

This report provides C-level tech leaders with a roadmap to help them build agile, future-fit teams through transformative learning.