Are You a Digital CIO?

By Samuel Greengard

It’s clear that business is rapidly moving into an immersive digital space. Yet somewhere between customer interactions and actual business performance lies the very real world of managing IT and business processes. As recently as five years ago, social media, cloud computing, big data and mobility were concepts rather than daily realities. Consumers hadn’t tapped an iPad and the idea of apps in the enterprise—let alone BYOD and consumerization—was a relatively novel concept.

But that was then and this is now. Increasingly, customers expect to interact with companies in real-time and across multiple channels. They also expect seamless integration across channels and a level of usability and functionality that pushes beyond the flat earth of many organizations. “Born to be Digital,” a new report from EY (formerly Ernst & Young) highlights the extent of the challenge: only 38% of CIOs within IT-intensive industries are highly engaged on core strategic issues.

That’s a problem. In today’s highly disruptive environment, there’s no way an enterprise can operate at full throttle when the CIO role is marginalized. What’s more, only 53% of CIOs hold a seat at the executive management table—though the figure stands at a mere 17% of CIOs in all industries. About 51% of the CIOs surveyed strongly agreed that they are taking the lead in pioneering new digital approaches within their business.

There are a few key takeaways from this research. First, CIOs generally recognize that they must play a role in an organization’s digital transformation. Two-thirds indicated that there’s a need to provide stronger and more strategic engagement with the business on digital transformation. However, many aren’t pushing for the level of engagement necessary. Only 51% strongly agreed that they are taking the lead in pioneering new digital approaches within their businesses.

According to EY, successful digital CIOs have a strategic vision of how technology will transform the business—and know how to implement it. They also become relentless innovators; focus on driving growth; ensure that others understand the IT vision; push beyond operations and infrastructure; and serve as courageous risk-takers.

Notes Norman Lonergan, global advisory leader at EY, “Many board-level CIOs in IT-intensive firms appear not to…push ahead on any strategic or transformational issues. They recognize the need to focus on bolstering growth, but too often fail to reach out to build relationships with the front of the business.”

Make no mistake, digital transformation requires more than technology. It requires entirely new ways to think and interact.

What are your thoughts about becoming a digital CIO?

About the Author

Samuel Greengard is a contributing writer for CIO Insight. To read his previous CIO Insight blog post, “Five Things Your Employees Want,” click here.

Samuel Greengard
Samuel Greengard
Samuel Greengard writes about business, technology and other topics. His book, The Internet of Things (MIT Press) was released in the spring of 2015.

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