Few positions within the modern enterprise landscape have seen quite the upheaval that CIOs have endured. The nature of that position has morphed and evolved  and changed enormously over the past five, 10 or 15 years. A position that was once absent from many C-suites now has a firm place at the executives’ table, and for good reason. But, with that added importance comes added responsibility, and in today’s atmosphere, CIOs have to be incredibly nimble, agile and focused on strategic goals.

Dan Bieler, the Principal Analyst serving CIOs for Forrester Research, sat down with the Enterprise Mobility Exchange to chat about some of his findings working with CIOs — specifically, what priorities CIOs are (or ought to be) worried about in the coming two to three years (with commentary and analysis from yours truly).

First, Bieler differentiated between strategic business priorities and ICT related priorities. For purposes of this article, we’ll be dealing with the former.

1) Driving productivity

This might seem somewhat elementary, but productivity gains are at the heart of developing and deploying mobility within the enterprise. Productivity comes one of two ways: driving sales or bringing costs down. At Copper Mobile, we have developed sales apps, marketing apps, branding, advertising, etc. for our clients, all of which significantly increased those respective teams’ abilities to drive revenue and profits into the company.

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On the flipside, driving down costs through increased work capacity, streamlining processes, enabling efficient communications and the like contribute every bit as much to the bottom line.

Taken together, CIOs need to keep a weather eye on their firms’ productivity, because driving that productivity is at the very heart of the mobile potential.

2) Supporting compliance and regulation

Regulation and compliance were difficult enough to monitor and enforce before the influx of handheld computers into everyone’s pockets. With the explosion of smart phones and tablets in the enterprise space, especially with the advent of widespread BYOD policies, the control of sensitive data and information has become more complex to monitor and manage than ever before. CIOs will (and should) spend a large percentage of their waking hours ensuring both their internal policies are upheld, as well as any regulatory restrictions that company or industry falls under.

Working with external partners like mobile device management companies or mobile security experts can help lessen this load, but it will generally be the CIO who decides to either bring on a partner or handle compliance internally, or which partner to go with should the firm choose that direction. No matter what, compliance and regulation will be huge priorities for CIOs over the coming years.

3) Innovation

It’s easy to think that CIOs necessarily drive innovation given most mobile or digital initiatives fall within his or her purview. But, for many firms, that’s not necessarily the case. In many instances, different business units will come to the CIO with an idea for a mobile project, the CIO figures out how to best deliver on that ask, and the firm proceeds from there. While this does and often should happen, that street must go two ways. CIOs need to be forward thinking and strategic in their roles. CIOs and their departments should be driving innovation independently of their firms’ business units, pushing new ideas and concepts downstream. The best firms are collaborative in these endeavors, but CIOs should never only rely on incoming project pitches to set the strategic direction of their firm’s mobility strategy.

Altogether, CIOs have enjoyed a meteroic rise in importance, accompanied by an equally astronomical increase in responsibility. As these executives continue to take on outsized roles in the strategic futures of their companies, these three priorities should feature strongly in good CIOs thought processes.