The role of the CIO has never been more dynamic than it is today. Although the CIO is facing heady challenges – the threat of internal and external security breaches rogues IT, executive demands for increased agility, continuous pressures to hold down costs – the opportunities for helping the enterprise become more data-driven, customer-centric, and innovative are more abundant than ever.

How the CIO responds to these threats and moments of truth is what distinguishes great CIOs from good CIOs.

Successful CIOs are enterprise change agents. They help companies to identify how people, processes, and technology can be used to lower costs, increase revenue, and drive innovation. Talented IT leaders are also able to help the organization become more nimble and to create opportunities to achieve competitive advantage in local and global markets.

The role and the future of the CIO have become incredibly complicated. There’s no blueprint for success. Companies in different industries each face unique regulatory, market, and competitive pressures. As a result, the role of the CIO and the strategy they pursue will vary from one organization to the next.

Given the rapid pace of change in business, successful CIOs need to be adaptable in order to help lead their organizations into a future where the status quo isn’t good enough. This includes recognizing and responding appropriately to many of the disruptive forces that currently threaten their position in the enterprise such as cloud computing and business leaders calling the shots on IT investments.

CIOs who position themselves as trusted advisors can help their organizations to identify and respond to opportunities quickly. This can range from the use of infrastructure as a service to help the organization lower the costs to manage and maintain its IT infrastructure to the widespread use of data and analytics throughout the enterprise to recognize and respond to emerging trends.

One advantage shared by CIOs regardless of the industry they operate in is that they have a unique view of the enterprise. They’re able to see how different parts of the organization interoperate – or have the potential to – and to identify opportunities to leverage technology to help the organization to innovate and to achieve competitive differentiation.

CIOs that are able to help the enterprise move ahead, to become more nimble in its ability to respond to competitive threats and market opportunities, will continue to demonstrate their value to the C-suite and keep themselves relevant in this brave, new world.

“You are either disrupting or being disrupted,” Asheem Chandna, Partner at Greylock Partners, recently shared with me. Organizational leaders need to continually re-imagine the business and ensure that they’re delivering real value to customers, Chandna notes. Otherwise, they risk being engulfed by more nimble competitors.

How do you see the CIO’s role in the new world order? Please join the HMG Strategy network discussion to share your thoughts on where the CIO fits into emerging organizational model.