Developing Role of the Chief Information Officer in India

Analysts Explore the Gartner 2018 CIO Agenda at Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2017,

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Digitalization and technological innovation are changing the nature of the job of the CIO, according to Gartner, Inc. Gartner’s annual global survey of CIOs showed that the CIO role is transitioning from delivery executive to business executive, from controlling cost and engineering processes to driving revenue and exploiting data. CIOs are increasingly taking on roles and responsibilities outside of traditional IT, with 51 percent of CIOs surveyed in India reporting that they are taking charge of innovation and 49 percent indicating that they are heading up digital transformation.

Gartner analysts presented the survey findings during the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo, which is taking place in Goa, on November 16, 2017. The 2018 Gartner CIO Agenda Survey gathered data from a record number of 3,160 CIO respondents in 98 countries and all major industries, representing approximately $13 trillion in revenue/public sector budgets and $277 billion in IT spending. There were 59 CIO respondents in India, representing approximately $543 billion in revenue/public sector budgets and $3.8 billion in IT spending. For the purposes of the survey, respondents were categorized as top, typical and trailing performers in digitalization.

The survey results show that, overall, 95 percent of CIOs expect their jobs to change or be remixed due to digitalization. While world-class IT delivery management is a given, it will take up less and less of the CIO’s time. Respondents believe that the two biggest transformations in the CIO role will be becoming a change leader, followed by assuming increased and broader responsibilities and capabilities. Inevitably, the job of CIO will extend beyond the traditional delivery roles to other areas of the business, such as innovation management and talent development.

“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. “While delivery is still a part of the job, far greater emphasis is being placed on attaining a much broader set of business objectives.”

Respond to Trends

The survey findings showed that a majority of CIOs say that technology trends, specifically cybersecurity and artificial intelligence (AI), will significantly change how they do their jobs in the near future. Cybersecurity will continue to threaten the global landscape in 2018, and 94 percent of Indian CIOs surveyed said they expect cybersecurity threats to increase and impact their organization.

“In response to these concerns, the survey found that digital security ranks high on the CIO agenda as 71 percent of global respondents and 74 percent of Indian respondents said they have deployed or are in short-term planning for deployment of some aspect of digital security,” said Mr. Rowsell-Jones. “CIOs are also increasingly adopting AI in their organizations. Forty percent of Indian CIOs surveyed have already deployed or are in short-term planning to deploy AI, compared to 25 percent of global CIOs.”

The survey found that growth is the No. 1 CIO priority for 2018, as reported by 26 percent of CIOs globally. However, in India, CIOs reported optimizing enterprise operational excellence (66 percent), tracking business value of IT (64 percent) and business cost optimization (62 percent) as their top priorities.

The good news for CIOs in India is that more money will be available to support these priorities. IT budgets in India are expected to increase by 7.4 percent in 2018. This compares to an expected 3 percent IT budget increase globally.

Define the role – focus attention beyond IT

At least 84 percent of all top CIOs surveyed have responsibility for areas of the business outside traditional IT. The most common are innovation and transformation. 51 percent of respondents in India said that the CIO in their organization is in charge of innovation while 49 percent said the CIO heads up digital transformation and 30 percent said the CIO leads enterprise change.

The survey found that CIOs are spending more time on the business executive elements of their jobs compared with three years ago. In fact, CIOs from top performing organizations are spending up to four days more on executive leadership. The more mature an enterprise’s digital business is, the more likely the CIO will report to the CEO.

In a change from previous surveys, respondents were asked to name the top differentiating technologies (in previous years they were asked about investment levels). Business intelligence (BI) and analytics still retain the No. 1 spot, with top performers most likely to consider them strategic.

“This new focus represents an opportunity for the CIO to become more deeply involved in this differentiating technology,” said Mr. Rowsell-Jones. “Data and insight drive the creation, delivery and life cycle of digital products and services. Flow of information in the context of user interactions leads to better engagement and value creation for all parties. Analytics connect the CIO and the IT organization to far-flung parts of the organization where they can cultivate new relationships.”

Implement the new role

79 percent of CIOs report that digital business is making their IT organizations more “change-ready,” which suggests that now is a good time to implement change to the IT organizations, and, in turn, should make the transition to the new job of the CIO easier.

The first part of the new job of the CIO is to build the required bench strength to scale the enterprise’s digital business through support for the digital ecosystem. This means hiring new resources to put in place the right digital team structures. Some CIOs favor a separate digital team while others make digitalization part of the day job of IT and the enterprise. However, 71 percent of the top performers have a separate digital team to help them scale their digitalization efforts. The most common structure for these teams is to report to the CIO, although the biggest difference between the top performers and their peers is in the CEO reporting relationship of these teams.

“The effects of digitalization are profound. The impact on the job of CIO and on the IT organization itself should not be underestimated,” said Mr. Rowsell-Jones. “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.”

Gartner clients can learn more in the report “The 2018 CIO Agenda: Mastering the New Job of the CIO.”

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