CIO Directory 2021

We set out in 2010 to recognise the South African tech strategist, the CIO. It’s been fascinating to document their growing influence and importance, coupled with the growing complexity of the role. The directory’s first editor noted that the CIO’s ‘value as driver of organisational strategy was at last being understood’.A dozen years is a long time in the tech space. We have tracked the struggles of the CIO, to be heard, to get buy-in to invest, to modernise legacy systems, to migrate to cloud, to embrace consumer tech innovation, to be agile, to fend off competition from the rest of the C-suite.

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We’ve seen CIOs deliver, and also step up, and take over the top post of the CEO – an impossible outcome a decade ago. One of the grudge buzzwords has been alignment. Brainstorm’s CIO Survey, launched seven years ago, has consistently found that CIOs were spending a lot of time aligning IT with the business so they could address the real needs as opposed to doing tech for tech’s sake.It took a global pandemic to put paid to the alignment narrative. CIOs and their teams were suddenly the ones who kept business, and the economy, going – with reduced budgets, and no hope of hiring more staff. In our first edition, we lamented that some of our local CIOs were too shy to be listed.

This year, we were faced with a challenge of an altogether different nature – they were too busy. Too busy enabling a total business model shift, going digital overnight, or helping companies under business rescue to stay afloat. As one regular participant in the directory put it: “There’s too much going on right now. I have to pass this year.” We’ve recorded a lot of lateral and upward movement in the community. Many CIOs have moved to other sectors, many positions have remained unfilled and were outsourced, some CIOs have become entrepreneurs, and some, inevitably, were fighting Covid.We wish them all the very best of luck.

If the dreadful pandemic that gripped the planet had one silver lining, it’s that, in business, no one can doubt the supremely important role of the technology strategist.And it’s time for ITWeb and Brainstorm to also digitally transform – we’re planning to complement this printed book and its eBook version with a truly digital CIO / CDO/ CTO portal. There must be an easier way to keep track of who is who, who is where, and to enable everyone in the community to add to the collective knowledge and discourse.

Happy reading!

Ranka Jovanovic

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