Infographic: The 9 core competencies of the future-state CIO

In a recent blog we introduced the concept of the ‘future-state’ CIO; the external facing and business strategist IT leader that is seen as a ‘game changer’ in the enterprise. We discussed the primary activities of this type of CIO, but what about the capabilities that enable them to carry out these tasks? Our infographic below outlines the nine core competencies of the future-state CIO.


While an IT leader must possess all of these skills to be considered a future-state CIO, the three most important – and strategic – competencies are an external customer focus, market knowledge and commercial orientation. Here’s a look at these in more detail, as outlined by the CIO Executive Council:

  • External customer focus

This competency follows a clear evolution from internal to external as a CIO moves from being a functional leader, through transformational and into a future-state CIO. Within the functional role the customer orientation is primarily internal customers (users) and focus is on excellent operational service, while external customer contact is mostly indirect. For the IT visionary, he/she needs a distinctive outward focus, understanding customer needs, internalising the customer experience, and like other senior executives may need to take on responsibility for relationship management with one or more key customers.

  • Market knowledge

This competency is typically not needed to any significant degree to fill the functional CIO’s role, it is helpful but not absolutely necessary for the transformational CIO but absolutely essential to operate as a future-state CIO. That is, one must know what the competitive landscape looks like, understand key customer segments and their unique needs, be able to interpret various industry/market trends, each of which define constraints on, and opportunities available to, the organisation.

  • Commercial orientation

This competency fits directly into the role of the future-state CIO. An IT leader can fulfil the functional role with very little of this competency, and just possibly he/she can effectively lead business process transformation with only a moderate level of commercial orientation. However, by definition it is impossible to operate as a future-state CIO without at least a moderate level of commercial orientation. That is, one must understand how the enterprise makes money or achieves other commercial goals, and have the drive to seize revenue and profit improvement opportunities.

For practical advice on how to develop these skills, download our complimentary how-to guide, ‘Aligning IT and Business: A practical guide for leading change in a service defined world’.

Tags CIO, CIO Leadership, CIOs, role of CIO, CIO role


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