For 82% of CIOs in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), digital business has led to a greater capacity for change and a more open mindset in their IT organisation, according to Gartner’s annual survey of CIOs.
On average, EMEA CIOs have increased the amount of time they spend on business leadership — up from 30% three years ago to 41% 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 organizations in 2018. If CIOs want to remain relevant, they need to align their activities with the business priorities of their organizations,” says Andy Rowsell-Jones, vice-president and distinguished analyst at Gartner.
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 digitalization (17 percent) as technology areas that will help their businesses differentiate themselves and succeed.
“‘Digital’ is here and is mainstream,” says Rowsell-Jones. “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% of the CIO respondents in EMEA are designing digital initiatives, 29% are delivering them, 15% are scaling them and 4% 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 labeled,” says Rowsell-Jones. “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 organization, and 41 percent are responsible for innovation. Furthermore, many of EMEA CIOs said their organization has already deployed, or is experimenting with, digital security (76%), the Internet of Things (39%) and artificial intelligence (28%).
CIOs have a number of ways in which to develop digital business in their organisation. The survey found that in EMEA, 47% of the CIO respondents have a dedicated digital business team. It also revealed that few of these teams (16%) are made up of IT associates only. For 47% 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% 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,” says Rowsell-Jones. “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.”