The dynamic role of the CIO


“Technology underpins every business today, and it’s more of a business role these days rather than just technology, because technology and business have become so intertwined. It’s a very important support role for every aspect of business, be it marketing [or] sales. Everybody is using technology,” Yaron Assabi, founder of Digital Solutions group, told CNBC Africa.

“The Chief Information Officer has become more of an enabler in the business, and [they] need to understand the business a lot better, and we need to apply technology to the way we make the operations more efficient, as well as to how we innovate our business.”

The Chief Information Officer (CIO) role has however undergone a rapid change, and as a result of that, according to Armandé Kruger, regional sales director of PBT Group, there should be a significant focus on the business side of it.


(READ MORE: S.Africa’s banks investing in ‘information’ technology)

“[The CIO] definitely needs to look at the information side, and then at the business side. If [they] doesn’t do that, [they’re] going to be outdated very soon,” said Kruger.

A number of executives and senior business people however entered the business industry long before the technological information age begun, and their training on how to integrate information and technology remains crucial.

“I think it’s important that the CIO sits at the executive level, and if [they] walk in on a Monday morning, the question [they] should be asking is what’s the most important thing on your mind. [They] should speak to the HR director, the financial person, [and ask] ‘what is it that keeps you awake at night?’ The CIO is the person that should provide those answers,” Kruger added.

(READ MORE: Technology and the employment of Africa’s future generations)

Assabi however explained that often when technology projects are deployed one needs to have well-aligned business processes, as well as the support of the entire business.

“When [CIOs] want to deploy new technology to make the organisation more efficient, [they] are very concerned about cultural buy in, about knowledge workers that can actually take the technology and utilise it,” he explained.

“At the end of the day, we all hear about all these technology projects that fail, and the reason they fail is because there hasn’t been a total buy in from the organisation. Having to keep up with all the latest technology as well as all the latest in business is becoming a challenging role.”