Business leadership; is this the main priority for EMEA’s CIOs

Digital is here and is mainstream. Over the year, corporate sector has seen Chief Information Officers (CIOs) moving from experimentation stage to effectively scaling their digital business initiatives. This has thrown up a challenge at CIOs to grow these initiatives to deliver economies of scale and scope.

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 organization, according to Gartner, Inc.’s annual survey of CIOs.

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.

Aligning work with business priorities

“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,” said Andy Rowsell-Jones, vice president and a distinguished analyst at Gartner.

26 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 business is changing the CIO’s job

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 while four percent are at the ‘harvesting’ stage.

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

Struggling to scale initiatives

Some CIOs in EMEA are struggling to scale their digital business initiatives. The survey revealed that the biggest barrier is culture. 48 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. 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,” stated Rowsell-Jones.

The CIO role is widening

Adoption of digital technology is increasingly forcing the role of the CIO to widen. 46 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 percent), theInternet of Things (39 percent) and artificial intelligence (28 percent).

Putting in place the right digital structures

CIOs have a number of ways in which to develop digital business in their organization. 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.