Spotlite – The Role of the Chief Information Officer in 2021

A bitesized report built out from insights provided by CIOs looking to transform their IT strategies for 2021.


Challenges for Information Technology execs in 2021 Include:

  • Technological Transformation
  • Data Protection & Privacy
  • Onging Cybersecurity Threats
  • New Role of the Chief Information Officer

The role of the Chief Information Officer has shifted in recent memory, but they are still expected to provide solutions to these key issues.

Here, we’ve rounded up the some of the key insights* from global senior Chief Information Officers and technology leaders – perfect for the tech leader on the move.

*Insights taken from the GDS Group North American CIO Insight Summits held during April and June.

Lessons from Industry X.0 Nitin Sethi, Global IT Director of Digital Transformation, Visteon

A keynote looking at the necessary building blocks to help build a digital backbone for any company.

  • Innovation Thinking: “While we are all busy with keeping our lights on, we need to make sure that we are running a bimodal organization, you have to have a set of people who are focusing on innovation”
  • Urgency: “I think we have all seen the digital transformation getting accelerated 5 to 6 times during Covid and we are all struggling with the adoption of remote work. There has to be a sense of urgency for certain innovation to happen.”
  • IT & Business Amalgamation: “It’s very important that in any innovation project you have the right IT & business camaraderie to go out and make sure that you are successful.”

Empowering the Human Behind the ScreenChristopher Davis, Chief Information Officer, Tile Shop

A guide on how to keep the user front and center when engaging in transformation projects.

  • Culture: “Even if you get your strategy right, if you don’t have your culture right and the style of how you approach things, you’re still going to really be struggling to deliver that strategy. Culture is always going to be your battle until it’s fully embedded.”
  • Digitalization: “A lot of the time you’re doing digitalization, not digital transformation, your business is the same, you’re just making it easier for you to drive success.”
  • Valuing Staff: “It’s not an organization that’s going to make change, it’s a whole group of individuals, and so you have to connect with all of them.”

Stepping into your Customers Shoes with Customer-Centric Digital TransformationDara Meath, CIO, Conair – Pete Gibson, CIO, Friendlys Restaurant – Muddu Sudhaka, CEO, Aisera

A Keynote panel exploring how IT systems & software can help in keeping up with customer needs.

  • Dara on the Customer: “As a digital leader, we’re getting out there and trying to understand what the customer is looking for. Those customers are not only those external to us but internal.”
  • Pete on Collaboration: “You’ve got to have the alignment and the relationship with everyone in the organization. From a technology point of view, you never have enough funds or resources to solve all the sins in the world.”

Muddu on Tech Utilization: “The key for competition is not about throwing more bodies at the problem, what I see it as is that if you want to compete in the brave new world, you have to leverage technology.”

Unleash The Power Of Your Data  – Sarah Love, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Mulesoft – Loreal Lynch, VP, Product Marketing, Tableau

A keynote seminar on the importance not just of digital transformation, but data transformation too.

  • Data Significance: Sarah – “Data is the key to understanding your customers, if you want to transform your relationships with your customers, it all starts with data.”
  • Data Security: Loreal – “You need to ensure that the right people have access to the right data to ensure that you can protect that data.”
  • Connected Data: Sarah – “The average enterprise has 900 applications and only one third of them are connected.”

Data Governance – Embedded, Invisible and Agile! – Santosh Kudva, Chief Data Officer & CIO, GE Power

A conversation focused on defining holistic, end-to-end data governance policies and how the role of the Chief Information Officer is pivotal.

  • Efficiency: “In a resource constrained environment, doing things efficiently becomes very important.”
  • Data Waste: “When I look at the amount of value we are leaving on the table, it’s huge if we don’t fix data quality at the source.”
  • Strategic Efficacy: “We have to do things effectively and efficiently to keep our organizations safe, we need to be invisible, we need to be agile.”

Achieving the Right Hybrid Cloud Strategy to Enable Agility at ScaleSunil Joshi, CTO, IBM Academy of Technology – Steven Visconti, Public Cloud Sales Leader, IBM

A talk which outlines the value of a hybrid cloud model & how it can bolster efficiency and flexibility.

  • Customer-Centricity: Sunil – “Why are people trying to transform? It’s mainly because we are trying to move to more customer-centric thinking.
  • Growth: Steven – “We want people to learn the new methodologies, the new approaches, versus the traditional things that we grew up on.”

Holistic Transformation: Sunil – “Look holistically, it’s not just application, it is your platform, it’s your infrastructure and it’s your application engineering.”

CIO Insight Summits: H1 2021 – In Summary

Bitesized insights from leaders discussing transformational change at one of the most senior IT networking events in the world.

Read our more extensive CIO Spotlight report here: ‘10 Leading Technologists on the role of the CIO in 2021

GDS Summits are tailored 3-day virtual event conferences that bring together business leaders and solution providers to accelerate sales cycles, industry conversations and outcomes. Regarding the CIO Insight Summits, 92% of Delegates said the Digital Summit provided them with actionable outcomes to support their current initiatives, whilst 88% of the same group said the overall experience of Digital Summit they attended was either Above Average or Excellent.

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