Image courtesy of http://industrialiot5g.com/

Image courtesy of http://industrialiot5g.com/

More than 40 percent of CIOs currently report directly to the CEOs of their midmarket companies, further demonstrating the trend that IT organizations need to function as critical business partners.

That certainly doesn’t mean they can bask in the cerebral glow as IT heroes, with capes flowing in the breeze.

Armed with industry insight, advice from internal IT teams and the occasional airline magazine, the midmarket C-suite is asking more questions and looking for more solutions to business initiatives that edge them ahead of the competition.

Does the race to employ IoT, robots and automation mean there’s another CXO poised to challenge the traditional CIO role or replace it all together?

In the traditional enterprise that existed long before the cloud-based delivery era, the CIO represents the external face of IT while the CTO directs the realization of the right technology architecture, people and processes to fulfill the CIO’s strategies according to Dave Widener of Dead River Company.

However, Widener suggests that tech-based firms and innovative startups require a deeper technical skill set and greater understanding of the technology stack, so the CTO, in some cases, could essentially replace the CIO.

Gene RindelsGene Rindels of Charles Machine Works added that the life cycles of technology, devices and services are so short today you almost need to be both CTO and CIO, changing as the situation demands.

“It seems as though you need to be a technologist Eco Boost Flex fuel engine, able to run on multiple types of fuel, never getting used to one type, and you better get 35 MPH on them all!”

Now more than ever in the midmarket space, IT executives are under pressure to employ solutions that give their companies competitive advantage.

Though M&A activity in the midmarket slowed in the first half of 2016 (as uncertain in this as in any election year), midmarket companies in the Boardroom Events community repeatedly share that their corporate strategies focus on M&A for growth – an interesting and often challenging way to uncover new technology solutions.

Travis Jacobsen at Cavco Industries, reports a reduction in full time employees supporting HR payroll functions after picking up Ultimate Software’s UltiPro solution. He describes it as a well integrated solution with portals connected to Indeed.com for procuring core talent.

Several CIOs report HR as being the laggard for attention and demand of IT, mainly as a function of business priority. However, for companies like Swisher International where VP and CIO Eric Tewey has led technological transformation, IT is employing solutions like KnowledgeNet as a training tool to increase top line revenue.

Many are also forging stronger partnerships across marketing departments to better leverage animation and video collateral for marketing campaigns to prospective employees as well as using social media channels to increase brand and cultural awareness.

The current state of the global economy means CFOs are imploring IT to focus on cutting operational costs but also to work with business development on solutions that retain existing customers and work to win new ones.

GHY CIO Nigel Fortlage shared that though some “shadow IT” testing has been coordinated; the biggest challenge still lies in finding solutions scaled for the specific needs of midmarket organizations. A clear need for a CRM solution has been demonstrated, but Sales and Marketing will still lean on the expertise of IT to identify the best organizational fit.