The evolution of the CIO: an evolving role
Technology has become ingrained in almost every part of business life – no matter the industry or sector.As employers have learned to survive in unstable market conditions, they’ve come to realise the value of having an innovative and business-focused chief information officer (CIO).With technology advancing at an unprecedented pace, the traditional responsibilities of the CIO have expanded, with their role becoming increasingly important to the success of an organisation. In today’s business world, CIOs are required to not only manage IT infrastructure and systems, but also to drive forward and align technology initiatives with overarching business goals.The changing roleHistorically, the CIO's primary focus has been on overseeing the implementation and maintenance of technology systems within an organisation. However, as businesses have become more reliant on technology for their operations and growth, the role has evolved to encompass a broader set of responsibilities.Today, CIOs are expected to be strategic business partners who are there to help enhance operational efficiency and leverage technology to create competitive advantages – maximising the return on the company’s investment in technology. In other words, it’s now essential for a CIO to focus not only on cost savings, but on using technology to add value and increase revenue for the business.CIOs are now required to collaborate closely with other c-suite executives to align technology initiatives with overall business objectives, identify opportunities for digital transformation, and mitigate potential risks associated with technology adoption. It’s an exciting era, as CIOs now have the chance to be transformational leaders who can harness technological advancements and data to consolidate their tech stacks and gain efficiency.Challenges in staying up to dateStaying current with the latest technological developments can be a considerable challenge. The rapid pace of innovation, coupled with the proliferation of widespread AI technologies, presents a daunting task for CIOs looking to stay informed and ready to address the potential impact these technologies can have on their organisation.According to digital adoption platform, Userlane, and leading consultancy, PwC, almost two thirds of CIOs surveyed were concerned that the state of the economy will affect their digital transformation plans. But at the same time, 62% plan to deepen their investment in technology, illustrating just how important technology integration now is at leadership level.One of the biggest challenges is offering digital services that are safe and secure for the consumer, which makes cybersecurity a number one priority for the majority of CIOs; their responsibility is to protect the systems and data that shareholders and stakeholders entrust them with.As cyber threats become more sophisticated, CIOs must continually evaluate and implement robust security measures to safeguard their organisations' data and infrastructure.Understanding the capabilities of AIGiven the uptake in generative AI across the workplace, it’s no surprise that AI is expected to shape the future of business. Large language models (LLMs) will continue to play a part in generating documentation on business processes, designing training programmes, and writing and rewriting code.AI has been hotly anticipated by technology departments for a while, but has only recently reached a point where its potential benefits, capabilities, and enhancements, have become clear. CIOs are being asked to learn what AI is capable of and how it can be harnessed to competitive or strategic advantage across the business – similar to the adoption of any other technology.More recently, generative AI is offering an entry point for companies looking to spearhead investment decisions. Rather than manually researching information, CIOs have the ability to use generative AI to summarise markets, telling them where to look and where to harness department energy.Managing business needsThis transformation now sees CIOs juggling evolving responsibilities, to shape their departments. This requires a thorough understanding of their organisation's strategic objectives – helped by their c-suite role – as well as the ability to identify and prioritise technology initiatives that will best support those objectives.As the role grows, it’s important for CIOs to develop and maintain strong relationships with other business leaders and departments, gaining insights into their challenges and opportunities, and leveraging technology to address them. As a company grows, so does the amount of data, which makes having an innovative leader and strong IT department even more essential.We’re seeing CIOs steering the ship, promoting continuous improvement within their teams, while further encouraging the exploration of new technologies to drive meaningful change to stay competitive, relevant, and secure.The sooner companies realise the true value of the CIO position, the better their chances of success.To find a talented tech professional for your company, or to take the next step in your career, contact our specialist technology recruiters now.
Eight soft skills salespeople can adopt to improve their performance
When you are trained for a new job you expect technical skills to be at the top of the list, but in sales, the best tools you can have are your skills. Of course, hard skills such as using computer systems are still essential, but making yourself a valuable asset has gained greater importance to employers recently.Soft skills are increasingly emphasised in most industries, however, salespeople rely on them to be able to build rapport with customers. Products are easier to buy from someone that the customer likes and trusts - if you come across as disrespectful or pushy, this reflects badly on the product you are trying to sell and business will in turn suffer.Here are some soft skills that every salesperson can adopt with the right motivation.A growth mindsetMaking yourself valuable to a company, in a world where change is rapid, you need to change yourself at times too. If you become stuck in your ways and unable to adapt, you will lose your value every time your skills become obsolete. Don’t be satisfied with just reaching your sales goal and only focusing on numbers; aiming to become better will allow you to exceed those goals. Personal development is one of the most important aspects.ConfidenceThis can mean the difference between a good salesperson and a great salesperson. If you don’t sound confident in what you’re saying, customers will not believe that you know what you’re talking about or that you honestly believe what you’re saying. If you don’t have confidence, there are many techniques to try out. For example, writing down what you need to say before you make a phone call can make you feel more prepared, and this will come across when you speak to the customer.PassionHaving ambition and drive for selling can come from your passion and enjoyment. Loving what you do is the best way to be better at what you do in any field – your positivity will shine through and you’ll be compelled to be better by practising and your talent will come naturally to you. Passion can be good for teamwork, which is increasingly important in sales. Your passion can influence that of others in your team and create a more social, happy and effective sales team.Effective communicationIf you want someone to give you their time, you need to earn it by communicating well. A salesperson needs to be a good communicator at all times. Knowing how to speak to different people is vital – you would never speak to a customer the same way you would speak to a friend or colleague. Imagine you are talking to someone very important - which your customers are - like your boss, for example. Be polite, honest, clear and concise. Active listeningWhen you’re talking to a potential customer, you shouldn’t be dominating a conversation, no matter how badly you want to reach your sales target. People will appreciate it if you listen to what they need, not just what you want to brag about – although it may be tempting when you’re in a hurry. Showing them that you are listening can be as simple as nodding and making eye contact when face-to-face, or simply saying “yes, I agree” over the phone. Having empathy is in itself a soft skill which will take you far in sales.KnowledgeThis may sound obvious, but you need to know what it is you’re selling and who you are selling to. It also helps to understand why a customer would want to buy something from you. Understanding your customer requires building and maintaining a relationship or just a good bit of research. Touching back on the confidence point, knowing what you are doing will generate more trust in what you are saying. These skills do not just benefit you as a salesperson but as a member of a team. A business can thrive more with a team of people with these soft skills, than just a team with technical skills. Each of these skills is transferable to any profession and can be useful in your social life as well.Soft skills are not as easy to adopt as hard skills because they are seen as innate personality traits, but they can be learned, and they can also be measured by employers.Another benefit of having soft skills is that they can’t be replaced by technology – these are people skills.If you're looking for your next sales role or a talented candidate, find your nearest Reed office.
How to juggle a side hustle with a full-time job
Pursuing personal interests and supplementing income are often key drivers for entrepreneurs, however the challenge lies in maintaining a healthy work-life balance. With the lines increasingly blurred for many between work and personal life, it can be difficult to switch off, especially as our indispensable smartphones often play dual roles in private and business use.Whatever happens, never let your side hustle impede your ability to do your main job, even if it is not your main passion. If you give it a chance, it may even turn into your dream job. Here's how to seamlessly manage both:Establish boundariesThe first step to successfully balancing a side hustle with a full-time job is to get organised and establish clear boundaries. Create distinct spaces for your job and side hustle, both physical and digital. This separation helps in switching between roles without feeling constantly pulled in different directions. Divide your workspaceInvest in a dedicated workspace for your side hustle, whether it’s a co-workspace or even a corner of your home. This physical separation can serve as a visual cue, helping you mentally transition into your side hustle, after coming back from your day job. Let tech take the strainUtilise technology to create digital boundaries, creating specific folders, calendars, and apps for your side hustle. This is a very important step. It will sharpen your focus when the time is right, reducing the risk of being distracted by work-related notifications. Manage your timeConsider allocating specific time slots for your side hustle, and make sure it doesn’t and cannot bleed into your work hours. This disciplined approach will ensure that you maintain a healthy work-life balance. Adjust your schedule for better efficiencyTime is your most valuable asset and optimising your schedule is crucial to managing both job and side hustle effectively. Here’s how: Prioritise tasks Identify your most critical tasks and prioritise them. This will help avoid the stress of having to meet simultaneous deadlines in your main job and side hustle. Use your peak productivity hours to your advantage Determine your peak productivity hours where you can work at your best, and reserve them for high impact tasks. This will ensure that you’re making the most of your focused energy on both fronts. Learn to delegate Recognise when it’s appropriate to delegate tasks, whether at your day job or working on your hustle. Effective delegation can make your workload easier, which contributes to a more balanced lifestyle. Can a side hustle get you into trouble with your employer?Balancing a side hustle with a full-time job requires a delicate dance to avoid potential conflicts. Here’s how to ensure that you’re not jeopardising your career or compromising your wellbeing. Review your employment contract Before you even think about starting a side hustle, you need to carefully review your employment contract, as some companies do have strict policies regarding side businesses. Understanding these restrictions will ensure you avoid violating any agreements. Be transparent with your employer Honesty is always the best policy. If your side hustle aligns with your skills and doesn’t conflict with your job, then you could in fact discuss it with your employer. Having transparency can foster trust and potentially lead to more flexibility in your schedule. Manage conflicts of interestEnsure your side hustle does not and cannot compete with your main job, as this can create situations where your loyalty is divided. Clear communication and ethical considerations are essential in avoiding these potential problems. It’s crucial to understand the legal aspects of having a side business, no matter the size. If you still don’t understand or are in doubt, please seek legal advice as this could be the difference between running a successful business or running into problems which could cost you both jobs. Additional strategies for successMake sure you establish realistic goals for both your job and side hustle. This will ensure you do not overcommit, as if you do it can lead to burnout and decreased overall productivity. Many people dismiss their wellbeing when they're busy, but it's important to take regular breaks, eat well, exercise and relax in order to recharge and prevent burnout in the long term. Balancing a side hustle with a full-time job is no easy thing to do, but with strategic planning, good organisational skills and a mindful approach, it is fully achievable.While you may only consider your main job as a means to pay the bills, never forget the invaluable experience it provides, perhaps in communication, teamwork or discipline. These sought-after skills will stand you in good stead for running any future enterprise. Looking for professionals with an entrepreneurial spirit for your business? Or perhaps you’re seeking work with a forward-thinking, flexible employer? Get in touch with one of our consultants today.