Technology is sweeping through all sectors and industries giving birth to new business models and presenting a need for a more focused approach toward digital-led innovation in organizations. In this backdrop, CIOs in the C-Suite are emerging as the main directors of digital transformation. Chief Information Officers (CIOs) have a chance to step forward as digital leaders, and further their organizations through tech-driven development, people management, and skills building. According to a report by Forrester, they are primed to play huge roles in automation, analytics, and cloud.Here we look at how the strategic priorities of CIOs are changing, and how they will emerge as the new business strategists in 2020 and beyond. Changing Role of CIOsThe title of the CIO emerged around the 1980s. Back then, it was a new position, and highly technical. It was filled by a technologically skilled leader who would oversee everything related to information technology – including resources and staff spent on the same. With time, as technology attained a central position in every department, CIOs rewrote their role – not only as of the steerers of technology but also true business strategists and partners to the CEOs. Today, CIOs are the source behind the technological prowess of a company, which is finding use in every department and function. They direct the speed and efficiency of the infusion of technology in business operations and processes. According to Forrester, Most business strategy professionals will center their digital initiatives around improving customer experience. Customer-centricity is the prime aspect of changing the responsibilities of CIOs. (Forrester, State of CIO 2020)Today, CIOs are looked upon as the leaders for innovation and revenue-generation in the entire organization, not just the IT department. They are being charged for cross-functional efforts and collaboration. Top 5 Priorities for CIOs in 2020 and beyond IT leaders from several sectors – healthcare, retail, and technology – opine about how their roles and responsibilities are changing with time. Here are the top five priorities of CIOs for the next decade.1. Data and Analytics Data will continue to dominate the CIOs' priority list. Enterprise data capabilities will be strengthened to advance the ball on not only business intelligence but also prescriptive and predictive analytics. Business strategy is about making plans by predicting the needs that will arise in the future. CIOs will improve their positioning as business strategists by consolidating data and analytics capabilities. Their focus will be on: Uniting several data warehouses into a single system. Hiring more “analytics translators or business users” with an understanding of both analytics and business to contextualize the role of analytics in the business. Bringing in domain experts to break down the datasets, understand their flow, and exact value. Pair data scientists’ knowledge with industry experts to resolve data management woes, automate transactions, and mine data lakes. Getting the correct estimate of the cost of data. 2. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning The next priority for CIOs will be to help their organizations leverage AI and ML capabilities around a variety of channels and preferably develop (automated) “superagents” who can cater to new-age customers for whom instant gratification is an important value offering. CIOs, under AI and ML capacity building, will focus on: Leveraging NLP and ML to better interact with the customers and candidates through automatically generated questions and evaluation of answers. Tailoring questions to different positions candidates are applying to. Create apps to save humans from tedious and mundane work. Be omnipresent across different channels customers and clients are on.3. Cloud MigrationA large part of improving business processes for CIOs is to create smart storage of information and data from where they can be fetched easily and efficiently. Many CIOs in their capacity of business strategists believe that migrating to the cloud can be a great transformational source for digital content management and banking upon other data-rich wings. Under this category, CIOs will focus on: Rolling out collaboration platform on cloud for employees. Leveraging new technologies to change the culture. Blend cross-functional teams through cloud technologies. Reduce reliance on on-premises components. Monitor website and other cloud systems through cloud software. Bring data from business and IT teams onto a single platform. 4. Citizen DevelopersAs technology becomes commonplace in every department and function of the organization, employees will need to step up and develop an understanding of technology along with their core function. CIOs, as business strategy professionals, will ensure that low-code software is employed within the organization, and “citizen developers” are nurtured within the organization. They will focus on: Creating low-code programming tools. Train people to get some expertise in technology-end that’s apt for working with low-code tools. Make it easier for citizen developers to improve low-code tools as per their requirements and business process. 5. AutomationRobotic process automation (RPA), either partial or full, will be crucial for CIOs. The report by Forrester says that as much as 10% of the tasks will be automated in the departments. CIOs tasks under this category will include: Making RPAs as an efficient proxy for humans. Creating self-service capabilities for end-users. Reforming customer experience by including data and tools in the process. Upskill displaced personnel and help staff transition to more complex tasks. Be the new-age qualified CIO for A-list companies by becoming a business strategist and partner to the CEO in the digital age.