A recent CIO article by Dan Tynan proclaimed, “It’s more than an understatement to say the role of technology leaders has changed over the past few years.” He went on to document the various drivers of this change, including cloud computing, process automation, and digital transformation, to name just a few.

These trends are unlikely to shock those working in IT, but Tynan made a prediction many may find surprising: the CIO role will significantly change again in the next five years. Below is a look at five new hats technology leaders will be expected to wear in the very near future:

  • Chief Innovation Officer: Successful CIOs must become champions of digital transformation or risk being relegated to a caretaker role. Executives that Tynan spoke with for his piece emphasized that other departments can easily take over the more creative and innovative aspects of digital change, so it’s critical that CIOs move away from the traditional technologist role and embrace more cutting-edge initiatives.
  • Chief Inclusion Officer: Much has been written about the need for greater diversity in tech, and Tynan expects this to remain a “key agenda item” for CIOs in the foreseeable future.
  • Chief (Artificial) Intelligence Officer: While technology is becoming increasingly central to all departmental roles and functions, it generally still falls to IT to procure, implement, and manage technologies in the best way to drive business outcomes. With artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and other emerging technologies poised to become enterprise staples, CIOs will need to understand how best to harness these technologies and integrate them with other areas of the business. Tynan writes, “When it comes to thinks like ML and AI, CIOs shouldn’t be the smartest people in the room…But they’ll need to know enough to take advantage of AIOps and DataOps, have a deep understanding of the issues surrounding algorithmic bias and ethics, and make strategic decisions based on the data.”
  • Chief Instructional Officer: Just like the aforementioned need for greater workforce diversity, much has been said about the importance of IT leaders cultivating better interpersonal skills. Increasingly, CIOs must be capable of training junior IT staff on the new skills needed to take on emerging responsibilities and requirements.
  • Chief Inspiration Officer: As technologies like AI and ML become more ingrained in business, CIOs will be tasked with demonstrating their potential and inspiring the company to harness that potential. As Tynan puts it, “The ability to inspire is directly related to the ability to tell stories.”

Check out Tynan’s article in its entirety here for more on the above roles and what CIOs should do today to prepare for tomorrow’s responsibilities.