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Gartner: Digitalization, Tech Innovation Changing the Jobs of CIOs

October 6, 2017
by Rajiv Leventhal
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Cybersecurity and artificial intelligence (AI) will significantly change how CIOs do their jobs in the near future, according to new research from Gartner.

Gartner analysts presented the survey findings during Gartner Symposium/ITxpo, which took place this week in Orlando, Fla. 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. For the purposes of the survey, respondents were categorized as top, typical and trailing performers in digitalization.

The survey results show that 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.

What’s more, the survey showed that a majority of CIOs say that technology trends, specifically cybersecurity and AI, will significantly change how they do their jobs in the near future. Cybersecurity continues to threaten the global landscape in 2018, and 95 percent of CIOs surveyed said they expect cybersecurity threats to increase and impact their organization.

"The CIO's role must grow and develop as digital business spreads, and disruptive technologies, including intelligent machines and advanced analytics, reach the masses," Andy Rowsell-Jones, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner, said in a statement. "While delivery is still a part of the job, much greater emphasis is being placed on attaining a far broader set of business objectives."

CIOs who were surveyed rank AI, followed by digital security and the Internet of Things (IoT), as the most problematic technologies to implement. Survey respondents agree that the most common pain point is the fact that these technologies, particularly AI, demand new skills, some of which can be hard to find.

"In response to these concerns, the survey found that digital security ranks high on the CIO agenda as 35 percent of respondents said they have already invested and deployed some aspect of digital security, and 36 percent are in the process of planning to implement some form of digital security," said Rowsell-Jones. "CIOs are also increasingly adopting AI in their organizations. Predominantly, AI is being used initially, either to boost the customer experience or to fight fraud."

The survey additionally found that growth is the top CIO priority for 2018, as reported by 26 percent of CIOs. The use of digitized products and services is expected to drive new forms of revenue, business value and engagement of customers and citizens. The challenge for CIOs is how to grow it to deliver economies of scope and scale.

Further, at least 84 percent of top CIOs surveyed have responsibility for areas of the business outside traditional IT. The most common are innovation and transformation. When asked about their success criteria, top CIOs report they are already close to the ideal split where more focus of their performance metrics is on business outcomes rather than IT delivery. Based on the top CIOs' responses, the ideal balance is 56 percent of metrics related to business outcomes, such as revenue growth, business margins and influencing business strategy, and 44 percent related to IT delivery.

The survey also 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.

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