IT finally is getting its own seat at the boardroom table. In its recent report, Imagining the Future of the CIO, Celent describes the role of the insurance CIO, which is evolving to bring IT in as a valuable and credible partner with the business.

Transforming into a truly digital organization has many insurers re-examining the role of the CIO, who is now being charged with mitigating risk and cutting costs while enabling innovative products and services. “The future CIO is a balanced blend of business, technology, and interpersonal skills. This leader will provide the interpretation layer between emerging trends, current organization capabilities, and organizational strategy,” says the report. “The technical CIO is no longer what is needed in organizations.”

Report authors believe that there will be fresh aspects to the CIO role in the future, layered on top of the traditional responsibilities. Celent believes that in addition to performing the traditional tasks of managing IT capital and operational budgets, the future CIO will fill three dynamic roles: innovator, instigator, and integrator.

Insurance organizations now need a CIO who has a combination of innovator, instigator and integrator aspects to his or her personality and approach. “There is huge value to have these unique personas and roles in one person rather than disparate roles across the company,” explains Catherine Stagg-Macey, an executive advisor with Celent’s insurance practice and coauthor of the report.

 “The ‘types' of CIOs – Innovator, Integrator and Instigator – are more personas that a CIO takes on,” explains Stagg-Macey. “We see CIOs in the future able to wear all three personas at points. And in truth, CIOs will have preferences for one or two of them. As we are human, we are unlikely to see an equal split of a CIO across all personas. In interviewing the CIOs for the report (not all of whom filled these personas), I noted to myself at the end of call what percentage of each persona it appeared they stepped into.  There was a wide variation to the how each CIO currently filled the roles.” 

The Innovator

The innovator works to understand changes in the industry, as well as current and future business operating models and the role of technology. In this role, the CIO collects insight and intelligence from the outside world and brings new ideas to the executive suite. The focus is on the business aspect of innovation.

The Instigator

The instigator assumes the role of a catalyst and brings energy and focus into discussions about the changing world and how it impacts the organization. The instigator stirs things up by collaborating with the C-suite to create a case for change. And the instigator re-imagines the business. This role requires an individual with empathy, and one who has developed a strong network of relationships across the organization, but also an individual who is comfortable with ambiguity, an entrepreneurial spririt and a high tolerance for change.

The Integrator

The integrator connects the old internal and external processes, systems and data with the new. An integrator role requires the CIO to understand IT policy and regulation, as well as change management skills. Like an instigator, this aspect of the CIO role requires an individual with empathy and strong relationships across the company.

Most CIOs today resolutely fill the Integrator persona - and not the other two, explains Stagg-Macey. “In part, this is in response to what the organization has wanted to date. There are shifts in the organizational requirement around leadership in digital transformation, and it’s into this gap the Future CIO can step - bringing the new personas of Instigator and Innovator,” she explains. 


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