What It Means to be a Digital-Ready CIO

EY Americas IT Transformation Leader David Nichols talks about how digital-ready CIOs are different than other CIOs, and how they are transforming the business landscape.

David Nichols

What CIOs in "Born to be Digital" do you feel an affinity for? And why?

One of the report’s conclusions, that leading CIOs take a multidisciplinary approach, aligns to EY’s foundational belief that an integrated and holistic enterprise approach is among the single largest success factor. Whether it is enhancing performance or identifying and addressing risk, an executive’s ability to understand, draw from and leverage "cross-border" knowledge and experience stands out, especially as it relates to the digital onslaught. For example, knowing "tech," but not knowing "customer" is fatal. Understanding how digital impacts all aspects of the business—supply chain, customer acquisition and retention, regulatory compliance, IT budgeting, operations, legal and more—can turn digital from just another fad into a true competitive advantage. The CIOs that can do that are true leaders.

Anything else you'd like to discuss about the report?

Rather than marveling at the pace of change or at the rate at which digital is impacting the business and its customers and markets, CIOs need to quickly adapt to understand, appreciate and leverage the opportunities created by this advancing wave. Leading CIOs are increasing their business DNA, as well as their own thinking, to enable them to more quickly adapt and exploit these great opportunities. Clearly, a critical success path for leading CIOs is the ability to learn quickly, take calculated risks, learn from those efforts that go awry and rapidly industrialize those efforts that really propel their enterprises toward success.

Digital is moving fast, perhaps too fast for some. While catching up with this torrid pace is important, it is nearly as important for executives to look for and be aware of what they don’t know. Realizing that they may not know everything is a completely acceptable, as long as there is an honest and transparent approach toward digital. Identifying areas in which there is only marginal knowledge and expertise paves the way for executives to identify the means to address those gaps. As our survey shows, not everyone knows everything about all things, which is okay. But what is critically important is the follow-up appreciation of the importance of these issues and to ensure—for both stockholders and shareholders—the C-suite has an integrated and holistic plan to really leverage digital.

About the Author

Jack Rosenberger is the managing editor of CIO Insight. You can follow him on Twitter via @CIOInsight. To read his previous CIO Insight article, "Big Data Overview: How's Your Company Doing?", click here.


This article was originally published on 05-16-2014
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