CIOs, CDOs and CMOs: New IT roles and responsibilities

UBS CIO Oliver Bussmann explores how a new set of technology stakeholders is changing the dynamics of IT decision-making.

The role of the CIO has changed dramatically in recent years — but so too has the line-up of executives who influence the shape of IT projects, programs and budgets.

According to UBS group CIO Oliver Bussmann, there are now three clear levels of maturity in the IT leader’s role. “Typically as a functional CIO you are driving operational excellence, the shape of your infrastructure and the applications portfolio, your sourcing and partner strategy,” he says, highlighting the availability of various industry benchmarks for measuring that.

The second phase, he observes, is for the CIO to become part of business transformation, to sit at the management table with the rest of the business, mapping out business plans and turning those into IT roadmaps and investments.

But the third maturity level involves an active engagement with innovation — understanding the impact of new digital technologies and business models and sharing that knowledge with internal and external customers. Such innovation can then be injected into new products and business approaches, says Bussmann. “That’s a different strategic role for the CIO and the IT organization, and one that can drive a major impact on revenue, brand awareness and so on.”

If that sounds like the description of the role of a chief digital officer then it is intentional. “From my perspective this third role, as a strategic, innovative CIO, certainly encompasses that of a chief digital officer. You need a sound understanding of the existing IT landscape, a deep knowledge of the business’s core processes and also the ability to leverage what you learn outside the organization.” That might involve taking advantage of disruptive technologies — such as mobile, social, cloud or big data — and mapping those onto business opportunities, he says. And no one is in a better position to do that.

“The CIO and the IT organization is perfectly placed to have that end-to-end knowledge and then to team up with other players like the chief marketing officer (CMO) and line of business heads to drive through those changes,” says Bussmann.

That engagement with the CMO, or with marketing heads across UBS’s different lines of business, is particularly important, he says, given the influence many marketing leaders now have over IT spending.

“At both UBS and previously as CIO of [business application software company] SAP, I have built a very close relationship with the chief marketing officer. With the growth of digital channels, CIOs and CMOs are teaming up to leverage the new and different ways of approaching, attracting, interacting with and retaining customers.”

And that “totally different game plan” is inevitably impacting the priorities that determine marketing spend and IT spend, he highlights. “There is a new level of [marketing] sophistication out there that requires strong technology support. So that relationship is now critical.”

Source:, CDOs and CMOs: New IT roles and responsibilities


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