The changing role of the CIO

The changing role of the CIO

62 percent of technology leaders expect disruption to their businesses in the next two years. The pace of digital disruption is accelerating. CIOs must look beyond “business as usual” IT to work with the CEO and CMO to enable end-to-end digital transformation.


Partner, Head of CIO Advisory

KPMG in the UK


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The Changing Role of the CIO

The pace of digital disruption is accelerating. That’s the warning in the KPMG report Digital Business, which shows that 62 percent of technology leaders expect disruption to their businesses in the next two years.

Yet, as the survey also shows, it’s the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), not the Chief Information Officer (CIO), who is most likely to be leading a company’s digital business strategy.

It’s a statistic that reflects a growing business awareness of the need to be customer-centric, when planning a ‘revolutionary’ approach to growth.

But businesses embarking on digital transformation also need to think enterprise-wide. Digital transformation is about end-to-end processes representing the whole value chain, not only customer-facing apps and channels.

This creates an opportunity for CIOs to redefine their role beyond “business as usual” IT.

Pillars for success

KPMG has identified four key “pillars” that companies need for digital success:

  • A clear digital strategy
  • An impassioned and committed CEO – to drive execution of the strategy across the organisation
  • An innovative and flexible culture
  • A digitally proficient workforce.

These pillars present opportunities for the CIO. For example, just 27 percent of technology leaders say they have an “enterprise-wide” digital strategy; so CIOs can work with the CEO to develop this.

Technology leaders also cite a “lack of vision” as the biggest challenge they face when responding to digital disruption so there is work for CIOs to do in promoting digital vision at board level.

What CIOs can do next

Our report defines six steps that CIOs can take now:

  1. Promote development of digital vision and strategy. CIOs first need to help educate leaders about the threats and opportunities of digital. They can then start asking strategic questions about vision – before helping develop a digital business strategy with sub-strategies that account for different needs across the business.
  2. Invest in digital skills and capabilities. Businesses need to invest in a range of technical skills. More than a third of respondents, for example, said they lacked the skills they needed in big data and analytics. But non-technical skills such as project management and change management matter too.
  3. Develop IT architecture for digital. CIOs need to develop a core IT architecture that takes into account the demands of digital. Simplifying legacy systems and using cloud environments can enhance capability.
  4. Adopt flexible and agile sourcing. CIOs need to shift the emphasis of IT from building solutions to brokering them; an approach that reflects the increasing commoditisation of technology.
  5. Adapt the culture to embrace collaboration, innovation and speed. In a multi-device, omni-channel world, organisations need to be agile in building capability– while working collaboratively in cross-functional teams.
  6. Evolve IT governance for digital. CIOs must work with the CEO and the other directors to define a governance framework that manages and mitigates risk while encouraging innovation.

Bite-sized ideas for your next boardroom agenda:

  1. Have you defined your digital strategy in context of your growth plan for the business?
  2. Are you driving execution across every part of the business?
  3. Are you promoting a culture which encourages innovation and agility?
  4. Is your workforce digitally sufficient? Review requirements for recruitment, training and contractors.

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