Alvin Chau, CIO, Canada Computers and Electronics

Alvin Chau is a distinguished IT expert, boasting 25 years of experience in spearheading sophisticated technology projects, driving digital transformation, and managing mergers and acquisitions. His extensive knowledge spans diverse industries, including retail, branding, marketing, travel, hospitality, financial services, loyalty, education, and consulting. Alvin’s international expertise has seen him work with prominent companies across North and South America, the Caribbean, Asia, and Europe. Recently, Alvin’s exceptional contributions earned him a place on CIO Coverage magazine’s list of the 10 Best Innovative Companies to Watch in 2021. As a business technologist, he continually seeks to expand his knowledge and has pursued studies at prestigious institutions such as the University of Waterloo, MIT, and Harvard Extension School.


The role of the Chief Information Officer (CIO) has been rapidly evolving over the past few years as technology continues to advance at an unprecedented pace. In today’s digital era, organizations are finding it increasingly challenging to keep up with the latest trends and developments, leading to a significant shift in the role and responsibilities of the CIO. The CIO is no longer viewed as just an IT leader but rather a strategic business partner with multifaceted responsibilities.

CIO/CTO/CDO all in one

One of the most significant changes in the CIO role is the blurring of lines between the Chief Information Officer (CIO), Chief Technology Officer (CTO), and Chief Digital Officer (CDO). While these roles were traditionally seen as distinct, more and more organizations are now expecting their CIOs to perform all three functions. This means that the CIO must be adept at managing technology, developing digital strategies, and driving innovation within the organization. CIOs need to have an in-depth understanding of the latest technology trends, how to implement them effectively, and how to drive innovation through technology.

Strategic Business Partner

As technology becomes further entwined with business practices and operations, it is now expected that CIOs take on the role of strategic business partners. They must collaborate closely with fellow C-suite executives and department leaders to ensure IT initiatives align with overarching business objectives. The position of CIOs has shifted toward playing a more central role in driving business. IT should no longer be perceived as a separate entity but rather as an integral component of the company’s overall strategy. Furthermore, an increasing number of CIOs are reporting directly to the CEO to facilitate better collaboration across the C-suite regarding business strategies and solutions. The CIO’s role has evolved to align more closely with the company’s overall strategy, emphasizing their involvement in business-related responsibilities and spearheading technology-driven initiatives.

AI will be the Top Strategic Initiative

With the advent of Artificial Intelligence (AI), the role of the CIO has become even more critical. As AI becomes more mainstream, it is the IT leader who will be responsible for enabling AI innovation within the organization. AI strategy will become one of the top strategic initiatives in the next few years, and it is the CIO who will be at the forefront of this transformation. Exponential changes are unavoidable, and organizations need to adapt and drive the change along with the business. CIOs are now expected to not only incorporate AI as part of their digital transformation initiatives but also to focus on it to maximize the potential of this technology. 

Drive Digital Revenue

The focus of the CIO role has shifted from just keeping the lights on to developing innovative solutions that can deliver value to the business. IT is no longer seen as just a cost center, but the output of digitalization is increasingly becoming a revenue-generating avenue. The focus has shifted from just keeping the lights on to developing innovative solutions that can deliver value to the business. CIOs are now expected to drive revenue growth and help their organization become more agile and innovative.

In conclusion, the role of the CIO has undergone significant changes in the past few years, reflecting the dynamic and fast-paced nature of the digital age. The blurring of lines between the CIO, CTO, and CDO, the shift towards a more business-centric role, the advent of AI, the incorporation of AI into digital transformation initiatives, and the emphasis on technology as a revenue-generating center are some of the key changes that have taken place. CIOs must be able to navigate these changes and collaborate effectively with other C-suite executives and department heads to achieve organizational goals. It is an exciting time to be a CIO, as those who can adapt to the changing landscape will be well-positioned to drive value and success for their organizations in the years ahead.

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