Top Traits Of A Digital-Ready CIO

by CXOtoday News Desk    Nov 06, 2014

digital cio

The days of IT as a back office undertaker are gone. CIOs should take advantage of the digital technologies — including cloud, data analytics, social and mobile — that are rapidly emerging as disruptive forces to transform their businesses. While CIOs in most companies are leveraging digital technologies to survive and grow, their degree of adoption and interest varies. Digital ready CIOs, according to analysts seek  to stand out from the crowd and fulfill not only their career aspirations, but also the organizational objectives. In a recent study, Ernst and Young outlines some of the top traits of a digitally ready CIO.

Understanding of digital technologies: Digital-ready CIOs have a strategic vision for how technology will transform the business. By definition, all digital-ready CIOs have a powerful sense of how and where digital can transform product development or sales and marketing and open up new lines of revenue. They place more importance on the close understanding of their market or industry (70% compared with 52% of IT-intensive industry CIOs) and has the ability to deliver on their vision, drawing on an intimate knowledge of the firm’s business architecture and an ability to manage and drive complex implementation programs.

Relentlessly innovate : The study points out digital-ready CIOs innovate relentlessly. Seventy percent of digital-ready CIOs are aware they can add value by analyzing and innovating existing business processes, ahead of 61% of IT-intensive industry CIOs. These executives often applydigital technologies to create new mobile interfaces or e-commerce solutions, use social media to reinvent customer service or collaboration and uncover new data-driven insights. In the EY survey, 71 percent digitally-inclined CIOs state that they are responsible for driving disruptive new technologies – such as cloud, mobile and analytics when compared with only 51% of IT-intensive industry CIOs.

Striking a balance: While traditional IT leaders often appear as mere infrastructure managers, digital CIOs tend to move a few notches above this. These CIOs have placed more attention on other issues, such as enhancing business processes and preparing their organizations for change. At the same time, they do not ignore the operational elements, thereby striking a smooth balance between the functions.

Courageous risk-takers: Digital-ready CIOs must be brave enough to take a bet on emerging technologies even if tight budgetary pressures are often cited by CIOs as the reason why a new project can’t push ahead. However, they are more often willing to find ways to turn such pressures to their advantage. While nearly all CIOs have these concerns, digital-ready CIOs are more willing to embrace risks.

Ensure their vision is understood: Digital-ready CIOs have the ability to craft a compelling story about how technology can transform a business is vital. In other words, they ensure their vision is understood by other C-suite to drive an initiative or bring a change. Nine out of 10 digital-ready CIOs in the EY survey cite communication and influencing skills as strongly important. This in turn helps them explain corporate strategies, product strengths, and go-to-market programs – all in the language of the C-suite.