There’s no question that today’s business landscape is a mobile one. Workers often access company information out of the office from smartphones and other personal devices. Or, due to the popularity and growing expectation of being able to BYOD, they use a combination of multiple devices concurrently in certain professional settings. CIOs face the challenges of streamlining processes, keeping data secure and troubleshooting across both in-house and user-initiated endpoints—but there’s more. As mobility rises, so does the need for CIOs to evolve their roles in its wake. Some recent studies provide some interesting insights into this evolution. Let’s take a look.
A Rise in Mobility (By the Numbers)
Pew Research Center data shows that at last count, almost two-thirds of Americans owned a smartphone. So attached are Americans to our phones that 57 percent of us even reported banking from them, so it’s not difficult to understand the utility and convenience these connected, app-laden devices can bring to workplace environments.
A 2015 Citrix report found that the number of devices managed in the enterprise increased by 72 percent from 2014 to 2015—a substantial increase. The Citrix study also found that the average employee uses over three devices daily for work activities, and 61 percent of survey respondents reported working outside of the office, at least, part of the time.
The mobility gains in the world of SMBs are no less telling. In fact, Techaisle’s 2015 SMB Mobility Adoption and Trends survey found the following:
- More than 55 percent of workers in midmarket firms and 80 percent identifying as small business employees say they need mobile access to company data to do their jobs.
- Seventy-six percent of survey respondents say they access personal information on company mobile devices (a security risk for CIOs).
- By a more than 2:1 ratio, SMB respondents said that mobility is indeed a means of driving business growth.
The Evolution of the CIO
Any SMB looking to harness the business-building potential of mobility will face its fair share of roadblocks. The Techaisle report listed the following as the top five challenges SMBs faced as they aimed to support a mobile workforce:
- Cost of ownership (46 percent)
- Ensuring compliance (44 percent)
- Integration with desktop, IT, and communications infrastructure (37 percent)
- Finding a solution (36 percent)
- Finding suitable service providers (33 percent)
All of those top five challenges to full mobility adoption and support fall into the lap of the CIO—at least in the traditional job description. Today’s mobile-conscious CIO acts as a proactive decision-maker, driving digital transformation and in-house resource optimization rather than reacting to it. This can (and will) include addressing challenges from Techaisle’s list, but with a big picture component.
Case in point: CIO Magazine’s 2015 State of the CIO report found that 64 percent of CIOs consult with CEOs regularly about the technology required to carry out and measure business critical functions like customer service, product development, and marketing. In the future, responding CIOs said they’d like their responsibilities to include more business strategy activities and fewer functional and transformational activities. In short, CIOs are transitioning from behind the scenes troubleshooters to key business decision-makers focused on the long term.
Whether you’re leading an enterprise company or a small to mid-sized business, the role of your CIO must evolve to accommodate an increasingly mobile, BYOD workforce. Today’s CIO should drive digital transformation and understand the business implications of his/her decisions. Specific tasks are, of course, important—like troubleshooting and bolstering infrastructure—but a strategic, big-picture, mobile-minded mentality and open line of communication with senior management will make today’s good CIOs tomorrow’s great ones. What do you think about the evolving role of the CIO and how mobility is driving change in the workforce? What challenges have you faced in your organization? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.
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