2016–2017 Global CIO Survey

Navigating legacy: Charting the course to business value

Deloitte’s 2016–2017 global survey of CIOs takes us a step forward in gaining a deeper understanding of how CIOs create legacy - the value and impact technology leaders deliver to their organisations. Through in-depth interviews and online surveys, we collected the opinions and insights of more than 1,200 CIOs across 23 industry segments in 48 countries.

This year the survey explores the extent to which CIO personality traits (“nature”) influence legacy more or less than technology capabilities (“nurture”). We also explore the gaps between IT capabilities and business expectations and the agility of CIOs to realign their capabilities to their business needs. Finally, we analyse the idea of the “digital iceberg” and how CIOs are better positioned than any other occupant of the C-suite to drive digital across the entire organisation.

The survey uncovered a shift in business priorities from “business performance” to “customers,” with 57% of CIOs choosing “customers” as their top priority, compared to 45 percent in last year’s survey. “Customer” remained the top priority for eight of the 10 industries represented in the survey. However, only 45% of CIOs stated their information technology organisation is involved in delivering customer experience through IT capabilities, and 28% of CIOs feel their IT organisations are below average in their digital skill sets.


Gaps in expectation

To create value, CIOs must deliver IT capabilities that are aligned with key business priorities. In addition to business priorities, they should meet their businesses’ expectations of IT, such as improving business processes, reducing costs, maintaining IT systems, and managing cybersecurity. 78% of CIOs said that strategic alignment of IT activities with business strategy was critical to their success, only 5% said it was a leading-class capability in their IT organisation.

Additionally, this year’s survey found substantial gaps exist between business expectations and IT capabilities. 57% of CIOs report that the business expects them to assist in business innovation and developing new products and services, but over half state that innovation and disruption priorities currently do not exist or are in the process of being built. Similarly, 61% identify cybersecurity as a core expectation, but only 10% of CIOs report cybersecurity and IT risk management are a top business priority.

This presents CIOs with a huge opportunity to drive strategic alignment through IT capabilities. To keep up with changing business needs, CIOs should develop IT capabilities to drive business value, enhance their own personal competencies, develop relationships with other executives, and develop and nurture their talent and teams.


The digital iceberg

Our data and interviews lead us to believe that some CIOs and business leaders view “digital” only as customer-facing, front-end tools and technologies - what we call the tip of the digital iceberg. Others view digital as a mind-set, where technology fundamentally transforms and shapes future business models. This requires embedding technology in every facet of the business, and demands a fundamentally different role for CIOs.

If CIOs are fundamental to enabling digital transformation, they must develop and improve their digital capabilities and investments. More than a quarter (28%) ranked their IT organisation as below average in digital skillsets, especially customer and digital experience and analytics. Two out of 5 CIOs told us they were underinvesting in emerging technologies and analytics.

Conclusion: Control your legacy

These pivotal times provide a unique opportunity for CIOs to drive business transformation, harness digital disruption and create a powerful legacy. We present 5 key takeaways in this report:

  • Be adaptive. CIOs are not limited by personality traits or work styles. In fact, we have seen that they can control their careers— and their legacies—by nurturing required leadership competencies and IT capabilities and make an indelible impact on their teams and businesses. 
  • Invest in talent and capabilities to drive value. CIOs can’t build their legacies alone. The IT capabilities, teams, and talent that CIOs develop play a fundamental role in their legacies. To succeed, CIOs need to engage, attract, invest in, and retain talent and skill sets. 
  • Rethink digital. CIOs should collaborate with other leaders to define “digital” based on their business context. They should acknowledge their role as drivers of the organisation’s digital transformation, demonstrate leadership, and exert influence over future business needs and strategy. 
  • Cast a wider net of relationships and influence. To become and remain influential, CIOs should develop and maintain relationships with key stakeholders. They need to build alliances and partnerships inside and outside of the C-suite, their company, and their industry. 
  • Step up or step aside. CIOs are at an inflection point. Irrespective of industry or competitive environment, technology will fundamentally transform their businesses. CIOs are best positioned to lead their organisations on this transformational journey, and if they don’t step up, other business leaders will.

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