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The changing role of CIO in Sweden

In its Leadership vision for 2022 CIO presentation in September 2021, Gartner reported an internationally trend. Based on the research firm, organisations have been undergoing digital transformation since 2015 and earlier for a few industries. Which trend takes a shift in the manner the principle information officer (CIO) operates.

This revolution found speed through the pandemic. Gartner industry analysts attributed this acceleration to an elevated focus on digitisation to pay for business disruption due to Covid-19. To sustain this flurry of innovation, CIOs will have to use business leaders more closely than ever before.

Sweden is an excellent exemplory case of how this change has happened. The positioning of CIO went from being truly a reactive role 15 years back, frequently reporting to the principle operating officer (COO), to a proactive role that’s central to the business enterprise and reports right to the principle executive officer (CEO). Exactly the same trend is happening in just about any industry and in every industrialised nations.

A few of the drivers are technological including improved cloud services, better data science techniques, and much more effective cyber security measures to fight off more sophisticated threats. Increasingly more organisations are benefiting from the features which are available these days through cloud computing. Data science has matured to a spot where information may be used across an organisation with techniques which were never possible before. Not to mention, combined with the new means of using data has come new regulation around data privacy and security.

Other drivers are business-related increasing digitisation across industries, growing customer expectations, and hybrid work environments. Customers are accustomed to digitisation in various elements of their lives and also have arrived at expect it in every industries. Digital transformation is enabling home based business models made to meet ever-growing customer expectations. Employees now be prepared to have the ability to work partly from your home and partly at work.

You can find other drivers for change in the CIO role which are specific to Sweden. There exists a talent shortage, that is occurring generally in most developed countries, but has specific characteristics in Sweden. Meanwhile, economists expect a hard period for startups in the near term due to a change in investor mindset. This turmoil may drive skilled Swedish professionals to safer work environments.

Another important development in Sweden may be the countrys decision to become listed on Nato, this means its cyber security must be strengthened. Threats can be more sophisticated and much more numerous. Companies such as for example Telenor, that offer fundamental services to the united states, have to be particularly vigilant.

The CIO as trusted business partner

In some instances, CIOs are seeing their position diminished of their organisation, leading some observers to claim that the golden age of the CIO has ended, as Johan Magnussun, director of the Swedish Center for Digital Innovation at the University of Gothenburg, told Computer Weekly.

In the last year or two, CIOs have undergone a reduction in organisational stature and clout, he said. They’re a growing number of getting into solely concentrating on maintenance of the infrastructure, and digital transformation is increasingly more off the table. Instead, that is handled in a decentralised manner, coordinated through CDOs along with other functions.

However, many CIOs are rising in stature within the enterprise. For instance, Kristin Lindmark, who saw the shift first-hand in banking and insurance, where she was CIO of SPP for pretty much eight years. She’s since shifted to the telecommunications industry, where she actually is CIO of Telenor Sweden and continues to see exactly the same trend.

Digital technologies are actually type in all industries, said Lindmark. Because of this, the CIO role has been changing for over ten years and the change has been even more quickly during the last several years.

It had been some sort of support function previously, however in financial services and telcos, for instance, It’s been a central section of what companies in those industries do. I believe you see this movement from being truly a support function to a far more central role in just about any industry now.

Lindmark reports right to the CEO of Telenor Sweden and reckons that when the CIO doesnt are accountable to the CEO, its an obvious sign that the organisation doesnt consider technology important. Digitisation is really a crucial section of any business today, this means the IT leader must sit at exactly the same table with another leaders of the organisation, she said. The IT leader must also be considered a partner to business leaders and develop mutual trust using them.

With the growing option of cloud services, shadow IT sometimes becomes an issue, said Lindmark. Sales managers might sign up to SaaS [software as a service] applications without telling the CIO. You dont desire to be the authorities or the inner guard. You must have the business enterprise perspective in everything you do. That will assist you avoid a few of the problems. Focus on what the business enterprise leaders want to accomplish and discover methods to deliver those capabilities within an efficient way.

I believe we have a higher IT maturity generally in Sweden and that, for certain, sets lots of expectations. We likewise have plenty of unicorns in Sweden. That impacts consumer behaviours and the expectations on services.

Lindmark added: The unicorns and startups also bring an open war on talent because job hunters have plenty of interesting choices. From the CIOs perspective, you must have an organisation that folks want to work with as the competition is fierce.

An added perspective in Sweden is that people are along the way to become a Nato member and that, needless to say, affects the entire security perspective. Security is actually very important to telcos, and this issue is on our management table in Telenor weekly.

Career way to CIO

The CIO job continues to be alive and well in Sweden, and a significant part of hiring people in to the IT department would be to give them a lifetime career path that may lead to the very best. Many candidates are searching for high salaries initially, but eventually they would like to relax somewhere.

I dont think being truly a CIO is a thing that you imagine if you are just a little girl or perhaps a little boy, said Lindmark. In my own case, I had an engineering background and plenty of different roles, both on the consultancy side and in line organisation. This allowed me to understand the craft of running IT from a variety of perspectives.

I believe that to become a CIO, you must have a genuine fascination with people, and you also have to be wanting to learn and stay ahead on technology because its changing really fast. And you will need a passion for business to essentially understand what the business enterprise is trying to accomplish and ways to contribute with IT. It had been a very important thing for me via 20 years in financial services and entering a fresh industry. I could bring ideas in one industry to another.

Within the IT organisation, CIOs have to be a reliable leader to get visitors to contribute to what you would like to achieve, but additionally you should discuss a whole lot together with your peers and partners, like the business partners inside your organisation. Additionally you have to be networking outside your organisation, both inside your industry and outside your industry to obtain external influences.

Lindmark added: Recruiting IT professionals has been difficult in Sweden during the last few years, specifically for highly specialised people in areas such as for example cyber security, data analytics and cloud computin. But I’m curious to see what goes on later this season. I think you will have a tendency for folks to get safe havens if they’re currently doing work for unicorns or startups. It’ll probably get yourself a big easier for stable players in mature markets to recruit.

Digital transformation: days gone by and the near future

Looking back on digital transformation in the last decade, Lindmark has been section of some successful transformations, such as for example the main one she led as CIO at SPP. But she’s witnessed cases where transformation failed. The ones that succeed have a good game plan, adhere to their plan and patiently keep on their are they change their method of conducting business, she said.

The digital transformation Lindmark led of late was at SPP, a respected insurance provider in the Nordics specialising in delivering tailored pension plans.

The companys technological platforms were fragmented, which managed to get difficult to compete on the market. This dispersed technology also managed to get hard to adhere to the growing quantity of regulation around financial services.

The business began digital transformation in 2016, with Lindmark at the helm of the IT department. The program was to generate what it called Future Core a standard platform for data and applications. The shift had not been no more than changing technology it had been about changing the organisation & most business processes.

By 2019, SPP had migrated 90% of its data onto the brand new platform and was saving 5m per year. It had also implemented new functionalities which were compliant with regulatory requirements. By enough time Lindmark left in November 2021, SPP had completed about 96% of the migration to the brand new platform.

The brand new platform allowed SPP to provide products it might not offer before. Its fully digital pension plan was rolled out in 2019 and won the Digital Project of the entire year award in Sweden.

Looking back on her behalf experience at SPP, Lindmark said: They are experiences I make an effort to bring in to the modernisation journey at Telenor. The telco industry has great changes ahead with new 5G services and a solid concentrate on security.

The CIO must also show leadership through the entire journey, making certain business continues through the entire transformation, said Lindmark. If you’re going through this type of change over an interval of years, you should be sure you dont become too internally focused throughout that time. Share what you are really doing with business partners. Match customer expectations.

For organisations that not fare so well with digital transformation, it is sometimes because corporate leadership isnt fully behind your time and effort and will not provide IT leaders with the required resources, she said. Some companies mistakenly think that the change is really a quick fix rather than major overhaul.

Magnussun at the University of Gothenburg added: Organisations which are performing poorly when it comes to digital transformation have an increased frequency of assigning responsibility for digital transformation to the CIO without increasing the budget and resources at their disposal. Executives want an instant fix and steer clear of coping with digital transformation as a transformative initiative.

Are you aware that changing role of CIO in Sweden, Lindmark said you will see a difference: The planet is changing fast. Its already hard to learn where you have to be in five years, and its own getting even harder. Businesses have to position themselves to go quickly.

You have to be sure you are ready for the unexpected. Which means you have an organisation that may move fast which is not slow to improve. You must have your current plan, nevertheless, you have to be sure that it is possible to change course and also have an organisation that may move with you.

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