In its annual survey of more than 2,810 CIOs worldwide, representing more than US$397 billion in CIO IT budgets in 84 countries, Gartner asked how CIOs should adapt their leadership to ensure their enterprises survive and thrive in an increasingly digital world. The survey included responses from 161 CIOs in Australia and New Zealand, representing more than $8 billion in IT spending.
Gartner vice president and executive partner Graham Waller says many technology leaders face three persistent issues that impede digital opportunities.
“In order to grasp digital opportunities, CIOs need to flip from legacy first to digital first in terms of technology leadership, from what’s visible to what’s truly valuable in value leadership, and from control first to vision first in people leadership,” says Waller. “In short, to thrive in this digital era, CIOs must flip to digital leadership.”
“The digital world has moved from the shadows to centre stage. Digital is a game changer, creating winners and losers in all industries and geographies, including Australia and New Zealand,” says Waller, who presented the results of the 2015 CIO survey at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo at the Gold Coast in Australia.
A traditional, risk-averse, control oriented corporate and IT culture will devour even the most well informed digital business strategy like a small snack.
“Seizing digital opportunities requires agility, adaptability and speed,” says Waller.“However, existing business processes, business models, information, technology and talent suffer from legacy inertia and complexity.
“CIOs need to simplify business processes, models and ecosystems. They need to flip from legacy first to digital first, and from passive reporting to an active search for insight.”
The survey finds 93 per cent of Australian and New Zealand CIOs agree that in addition to the considerable opportunities it brings, the digital world is creating new, different and higher levels of risk, and 66 per cent say that the discipline of risk management is not keeping up.
CIOs therefore need to review with the enterprise and IT risk leaders whether risk management is adapting fast enough to a digital world, says Waller.
How to become a powerful digital influencer
Waller notes, however, being a powerful digital leader and influencer takes time.
While the average CIO spends more time running the IT shop, high-performing CIOs are spending less, and making extra time to engage their board and senior leadership.
According to the 2015 CIO Agenda, having a deputy, a ‘COO of IT’ type of role reduces the time a CIO spends running IT by 5 per cent, or around a day a month. Yet only 42 per cent of Australian and New Zealand CIOs have a deputy or similar, compared to 47 per cent worldwide.
“Control first leadership does not suit the high-speed, innovative, uncertain nature of the digital world and can actually be an obstacle,” says Waller.
He believes that vision first, or inspirational leadership is one of the most powerful attributes of the digital leader. Digital leaders need to flip from aligning with corporate culture to building a digital culture.
“A traditional, risk-averse, control oriented corporate and IT culture will devour even the most well informed digital business strategy like a small snack,” says Waller.
To avoid this fate, he says CIOs need to lead a digital cultural revolution that helps the business understand and get excited about where digitalisation can take them.
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