CIO 100: What does the business expect from CIOs?

Panel session during the CIO 100 Symposium and Awards.

A Gartner 2016 CEO and Senior Business Executive Survey Showed that half of CEOs expect their industries to be substantially or unrecognisably transformed by digital. The 2016 Gartner CEO and senior business executive survey found that; in a bid to stick to their digital business transformation plans, more and more CEOs are choosing to head up digital change in the business. The survey found that CEOs now understand that digital business is substantial enough to warrant them leading it personally. So, does this mean there is no place for the CIO?

The answer is no, as the report goes on to inform that If CEOs delegate primary responsibility, then the next most likely leader is the CIO. The next question thus becomes, how does the CIO get the CEO to see him as more of a peer and not an “errand boy”?

This topic was covered during the CIO 100 Symposium and Awards where the audience, consisting of CIOs and other senior IT executives, was informed by Louis Otieno, Director, Corporate Affairs, Microsoft 4Africa that; CIOs, just like every C suite executives should speak their mind when they get their chance.

“The days of CIOs being ‘IT guys’, and seating at the back of the room, are gone!” said Otieno.

According to Otieno, CIOs are effectively the “digital marketing officer”, the “digital chief operations officer”, “digital HR officer” and in a sense even the “digital chief executive officer” but the key title is Chief Innovation Officer as they are the ones with their ears to the ground on all things tech and are best placed to make decisions concerning any new innovations for the company.

The survey results also showed that CEOs appear to see digitalization as a positive force, not a destructive one. Overall, they are very bullish about the effects of digital change on the gross (pretax) profitability of their businesses. Eighty-four percent of CEOs said that they expect digital change to bring higher profit margins.

With these figures in mind, CIOs should note that there is a chance to get a listening ear from within their organisations, all they must do is learn how to speak the business language. “CIOs should align their agendas with the business goals to get the attention of the company,” said Muchemi Wambugu, Founder, Sirius Consult.

The key takeaway from the discussion was that CIOs have now come of age, as technology continues to allow businesses to scale up and they essentially are the leaders of this domain and are thus a key resource to organisations.

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