How CIOs are preparing for digital transformation

Digital technologies are increasingly disruptive forces in our industries and economies. For CIOs, these technologies represent an enormous opportunity to forge a new role as drivers of transformational change in their organizations. To seize this opportunity, CIOs will need to learn new skills, approaches and attitudes.

New research from EY* identifies the attributes to which digital CIOs should now be aspiring. Based on quantitative and qualitative research conducted with CIOs who are already especially engaged on the strategic elements of their roles, especially at IT-intensive companies, it paints a portrait of the mind-set needed by CIOs who are determined to embrace the shift to digital.

As CIOs and CMOs move closer together, their shared expertise can be a powerful voice for monetizing customer insights.

The lessons from those CIOs who can justifiably claim to already be digital-ready are clear, and they apply across all organizations, no matter what their level of IT intensity. In particular, these digital-ready CIOs share six crucial characteristics. These include the following:

A strategic vision for how technology will transform the business, and a road map for implementing that transformation.

Digital-ready CIOs can articulate a vision of how their business needs to develop and the role that new technologies will play in that evolution. They understand what digital means for every area of the business, whether operational or customer-facing, and they make convincing arguments for why their organizations should embrace these opportunities.

Part of the strategic challenge facing CIOs is to communicate the vision. Almost 9 in 10 (87%) digital-ready CIOs are especially focused on setting out a vision of how IT can drive business transformation, compared with only 72% of CIOs generally. Having set out this vision, however, CIOs must also be able to implement it. More than 8 in 10 (82%) digital-ready CIOs stress their focus on the need to design and execute business strategy, compared with only 64% of typical CIOs.

A determination to move beyond the operational elements of the CIO role

EY’s survey results reveal that digital-ready CIOs are far less likely to report that they have increased their prioritization of basic IT operations. Instead, issues such as change management and process improvements are more likely to be consuming their time. This reflects an important characteristic of digital-ready CIOs: they see their role as being much wider than delivering operational excellence.

Digital-ready CIOs are comfortable looking outward from the summit of IT, rather than at what lies beneath them. They recognize that, while incremental improvements within their own departments will deliver benefits to the business, the more valuable prizes are to be found in using disruptive technologies to develop better business models throughout the organization.

Check out our quick and easy infographic for some exciting statistics that are doping CIOs:

EY Performance-Born to be digital

* Born to be digital: how leading CIOs are preparing for a digital transformation, EY, 2014.

The complete article was written by:

  • Tom Velema
    Europe, Middle East, India and Africa IT Advisory Leader EY, Netherlands
  • Frank Harmsen
    Executive Director IT Advisory, Advisory Center EY, Netherlands
  • Andre Wiedenhofer
    Manager Advisory Services EY, Germany

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