Digital business turning CIOs into ‘leaders’

For 82 percent of Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) CIOs digital business has led to a greater capacity for change and a more open mindset in their IT organisation, according to Gartner

Digital business has led to a greater capacity for change and a more open mindset in IT organisations for 82 percent of Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) CIOs, according to Gartner’s annual survey.

The firm also recently announced that IT spending in the EMEA region will hit $1 trillion in 2018.

On average, EMEA CIOs have increased the amount of time they spend on business leadership — up from 30 percent three years ago to 41 percent today. This indicates that as digital transformation accelerates, the role of the CIO is changing.

“While IT delivery is still a responsibility of the CIO, achieving revenue growth and developing digital transformation were identified most often as top business priorities for organisations in 2018,” said Andy Rowsell-Jones, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. “If CIOs want to remain relevant, they need to align their activities with the business priorities of their organisations.”

Twenty-six percent of the CIO respondents in EMEA said they expect their jobs to become more business-oriented, and 22 percent expect a greater focus on analytics. They identified business intelligence and analytics (26 percent) and digitalisation (17 percent) as technology areas that will help their businesses differentiate themselves and succeed.

The 2018 Gartner CIO Agenda Survey gathered data from a “record” 3,160 CIO respondents in 98 countries, representing approximately $13 trillion in revenue/public sector budget and $277 billion in IT spending. CIO respondents from the EMEA region totalled 1,069.

“’Digital’ is here and is mainstream,” Rowsell-Jones said. “CIOs are moving from experimentation to scaling their digital business initiatives.” In this context, the challenge for CIOs is to grow these initiatives to deliver economies of scale and scope. The survey revealed that 29 percent of the CIO respondents in EMEA are designing digital initiatives, 29 percent are delivering them, 15 percent are scaling them and 4 percent are at the “harvesting” stage.

Some CIOs in EMEA are struggling to scale their digital business initiatives. The survey revealed that the biggest barrier is culture. Forty-eight percent of EMEA CIOs identified “culture” as the biggest hurdle to scaling up from the initial phases of digital business transformation.

“Culture is not specifically labelled,” Rowsell-Jones said. “You can’t change what you don’t make explicit. Start by clearly articulating why change is required from a business point of view, then delve into what specifically will change.”

Adoption of digital technology is increasingly forcing the role of the CIO to widen. Forty-six percent of the EMEA CIO respondents are in charge of the digital transformation within their organisation, and 41 percent are responsible for innovation. Furthermore, many EMEA CIOs said their organisation has already deployed, or is experimenting with, digital security (76 percent), the Internet of Things (39 percent) and artificial intelligence (28 percent).

CIOs have a number of ways in which to develop digital business in their organisation. The survey found that in EMEA, 47 percent of the CIO respondents have a dedicated digital business team. It also revealed that few of these teams (16 percent) are made up of IT associates only. For 47 percent of CIOs their digital business team will run as a separate digital team that reports to business unit leaders or to the CEO directly, and for 23 percent of them that team will report directly to the CIO.

“Your role as a CIO is transforming in light of the accelerating adoption of digital business and the fast pace of technological innovation,” Rowsell-Jones added. “It no longer suffices just to be responsible for IT delivery, and it is of paramount importance to address broader business objectives as well. The time has come to master your new role as a business executive.”

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