IT Trends

CIO Roles in Flux

Nearly all, 95 percent, of chief information officers expect their positions to be changed or remixed owing to digitalization, according to a new report from technology market research firm Gartner. The two largest changes, according to respondents, will be to become change leaders and to assume increased and broader responsibilities.

"The CIO's role must grow and develop as digital business spreads, and disruptive technologies, including intelligent machines and advanced analytics, reach the masses," said Andy Rowsell-Jones, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner, in a prepared statement. "While delivery is still a part of the job, much greater emphasis is being placed on attaining a far broader set of business objectives." 

The report is based on a survey of 3,160 CIOs from 98 different countries and every major sector. Respondents represent organizations comprising $13 trillion in revenue or public sector budgets and $277 billion in combined IT spending. Respondents were divided into top, typical and trailing digitalization performers.

Other key findings of the report include:

  • A majority of respondents said that technology trends, particularly cybersecurity and artificial intelligence, will significantly change how they do their jobs in the near term;
  • 95 percent told researchers they expect cybersecurity threats to increase and affect their organization;
  • The most problematic technologies to deploy, according to respondents, are, in order: AI, digital security and the Internet-of-Things;
  • The most commonly cited reason those technologies are difficult to implement is that they require new skills that are often hard to find;
  • 35 percent of respondents said they have already deployed some piece related to digital security, and another 36 percent said they're planning to;
  • Growth was the highest priority for CIOs, cited by 26 percent of those surveyed;
  • 84 percent of top CIOs told researchers they have some responsibility for business outside of traditional IT, with the most common being innovation and transformation;
  • Top CIO responses indicated that the ideal split is 56 percent business outcomes and 44 percent IT delivery;
  • CIOs are spending more time on the executive elements of their jobs than three years ago;
  • The more mature an organization's digital business is, the more likely the CIO reports to the CEO;
  • Business intelligence and analytics was named the top differentiating technology, and top CIOs were more likely to name it as such than other CIOs surveyed;
  • 79 percent of respondents said that digital business is making their organization better prepared for change; and
  • 71 percent of top CIOs reported having a separate team specifically to help scale digitalization efforts.

"The effects of digitalization are profound. The impact on the job of CIO and on the IT organization itself should not be underestimated," said Rowsell-Jones in a prepared statement. "In this new world, CIO success is not based on what they build, but the services that they integrate. The IT organization will move from manufacturer to buyer, and the CIO will become an expert orchestrator of services. The real finding though is that this is happening now, today. CIOs must start scaling their digital business and changing their own jobs with it now."

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at jbolkan@gmail.com.

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