The CIO in 2020: no technical expertise required by Mark Aikman

I was reminded yesterday that in 2020, the World Wide Web will be 30 years old. That’s all. Only 30.

And look what it’s already achieved! Just in the last few years it’s blown our minds with digitisation; Big Data; artificial intelligence; the Internet of Things; cloud-based everything…. It’s changed everything we do in IT, usually on an annual basis.

 So in preparation for the Big Three-Oh, how will our jobs have to change? Here’s my take on the job description we’ll all need in just two and a half years’ time….

CIO Job Description                                                                               Date 1.1.20

The Role

Warmly embraced as a peer by the C-suite of senior colleagues, the CIO plays a leading role in developing the business. Responsibilities centre on strategy development and implementation. Vision, openness and collaborative skills are essential, as are experience of whizz-bang innovation and ker-ching revenue generation.

Reporting to

Chief Executive Officer


The CIO is responsible for:

1.    Leadership

  • Delivering all the business-focused results that depend on technology. Which is almost all of them.
  • Solving strategic problems in fully-paid-up and equal partnership with SMT colleagues.
  • Identifying and then generating revenue using IT as an enabler. Knowing where the hell to start.
  • Controlling and reducing costs, especially but not exclusively by applying AI.
  • Fully-paid up member of the organisation’s Chief Innovators Club.
  • Being actually able to describe what “digital” actually means to this business, actually.

2.    Strategic direction development:

  • Wearing the purple robes of the office visionary. 
  • Identifying opportunities for maximising IoT in this business. Implementing these without anyone minding.
  • Strategically pooling knowledge with sworn competitors to develop common platforms and ecosystems.
  • Conquering the Bladerunner-Beautiful-Mind-Matrix monster that is Big Data, to extract maximum efficiencies, insights and revenue. Understanding Big Data well enough to understand what the Sam Hill our data means.
  • Cheerleading Champion of Constant Change.

3.   Operations

During the tenure of this role, technological knowledge will become less relevant each day, as the company’s machines think, refresh and repair themselves. Therefore, the technical content of the role will diminish over time. However, the responsibility will always be:

  •  Making everything work all day and work better, every day.

4.   Security

  • Ensuring everything is safer than yesterday, in the context of the increasing breadth of threats, every day.

5.   Governance

  • Keeping everything in check, in line and under the spotlight, every day.

Competencies, skills and behaviours

The CIO requires the following:

1.    Communication skills

  • The ability to talk engagingly to everyone on their level
  • Spade-calling openness
  • Honest as the day is long transparency
  • The ability to influence, drive and energise everyone, every day, even Fridays. 
  • No desk will be provided, so sensible footwear and floor-walking skills are essential.

2.   Collaborative skills

  • The ability to view all negotiation as “we, not I”.
  • Trust that suppliers will be productive partners who will inform our work with their ideas and innovations. The generosity to give our innovative ideas freely to suppliers in return.
  • Advanced listening skills; and the ability to extract the most precise problem statements from colleagues. A talent for obtaining immediate agreement for proposed actions.

3.    Mentoring approach

  • The ability to attract the curious and talented to the business, regardless of their background, gender, orientation, ethnicity and science fiction preferences.
  • A talent for provoking in team members’ a slavering passion for innovation
  • Teaching skills that ensure people are perpetually observant and outward-looking
  • A preference for non-conformist thinkers
  • Ensuring everyone in the team has new ideas, which they implement, every day. 

 Other information

  • Remote working comes as standard.
  • Astonishingly, 50 years after the Equal Pay Act, in 2020 CIOs should expect gender parity on pay.

NB. Please note that technical expertise is of interest, but is not essential to the role.


Mark Aikman is a Senior Technology Executive with extensive experience running mission-critical operations and delivering strategically important complex change and digital programmes for Global FTSE listed companies.

Mark was listed in the 2017 UK CIO top 100 and is regularly invited to be a Keynote speaker, conference chair/panel moderator and writes a regular column at and Mark’s background spans many verticals such as FMCG, Finance & Insurance, Oil & Gas and Telecommunications, leading major operations and transformations at North Group, BP, T-Mobile, Cadbury Schweppes organisations and is now separating the new Upfield spreads business from Unilever.