Make CEO the Next Digital Business Success Story: Partha Iyengar

by Swaminathan B    Nov 04, 2015


With increased focus on digitization, the role of the CIO has grown beyond the internal digital strategy. Now, there is a need for the CIO to emerge as a business leader, more than just a technology leader.

Partha Iyengar, vice president and analyst at Gartner, told the CIO gathering at Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Goa that CEOs are aggressive about digital business growth and expect their digital revenues to double in the next five years.

The CEOs are eager to jump into the technology fray. The CIO should look to influence the direction of digital business. Or, take the lead and develop the next digital product for their organization.

Based on Gartner’s analysis of CEO priorities, concerns and attitudes, I recommend that CIOs should:

 Request and expect CEO involvement

CIOs who may have struggled in the past to get the CEO’s attention on technology investments should try asking again. The environment and the CEO’s perspective may have changed quite dramatically.

 Be ready to tell at least three admired CEO stories

A CIO in India’s financial services sector reported that 20 percent of his performance review is dependent on making the bank the ‘digital hero’ in the media.

“The CIO needs to give the CEO great digital business stories to tell,” said Iyengar. “Stories stick, they spread ideas and change culture. Look outside your country, region and industry for great digital stories. Or make your CEO the next big digital story.”


Start long-term planning for digital change

Contrary to popular perception, CEOs are not just focused on quarterly results. The Gartner 2015 CEO Survey indicates that 75 percent of CEOs report that they do very long term planning, at least five, and in some cases more than 45 years, ahead. CIOs need to do long-term planning for digital change with the CFO and the board.

Drive technology education as a mission-critical project

Until leaders are clear what digital business is, followers will struggle. Some CEOs are publicly declaring a ‘digital leader’ in their organization, which is not always the CIO. Other organizations are adding digital-savvy people to the board of directors. Education of the executive team is critical and the CIO is well-placed to lead it.