CIOMajlis delved into a discussion about the future of society, government and the environment in its December roundtable. Leading the discussion from a CIO’s standpoint, the conversation was conducted by IBM’s Government Global Managing Director, Sreeram Visvanathan.

“Here are some profound statistics to consider: 65 million people move to cities around the world, there are currently 70 million displaced people around the world, there have been 11 million weather-related events in the US alone this year, 91 percent of plastic ever created still exists. Do governments currently have the infrastructure to cope with this? It is the CIO’s responsibility to take leadership and do things that positively change society”, said Visvanathan.

He continued to outline the role of the ideal CIO, highlighting leadership as a critical trait and empowering the room to be the difference between the success or failure of a nation. The responsibilities of the CIO of the future, according to Visvanathan, include driving business strategies, bringing design back to the forefront by refining current technologies before executing new ones, and encouraging collaboration within a company by pausing hierarchical structure and hosting regular democratic brainstorms in a “studio” setting. It is imperative that a CIO take ownership of this.

While not impossible, a CIO’s graduation to a CEO is rare. “Current CIOs that go on to be future CEOs need to steer away from metrics and focus on values. The latter will be the driving force of real change in companies and society at large. Companies need to investigate the ‘why’ of customer issues – this is where human intervention succeeds over Artificial Intelligence”, Visvanathan concluded.


The CIOMajlis initiative is in line with the National Innovation Strategy launched by H.H Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum with the goal of making the UAE the world’s most innovative country by 2021. It functions as a thought leadership platform and networking hub for Senior Technology Executives to swap industry knowledge, explore business solutions, and share experiences.