Taking Charge 

The essential guide to CIO transitions

​Leadership transitions for new CIOs can be fraught with challenges, such as the shift in the role of the CIO from technology operations manager to strategic business leader. Three key dimensions—time, talent, and relationships—can be crucial for a successful transition.

A fraught path for incoming CIOs

As technology evolves to both drive business operations and generate revenue, the influence and relevance of the chief information officer (CIO) as a business leader is anticipated to continue to grow. Yet, as a recent survey has shown, CIOs have one of the shortest tenures in the C-suite, at an average of only 4.3 years. Many CIOs find themselves in situations that require them to take on new leadership responsibilities, juggle shifting business mandates, and manage complicated technology transformations.

Like most executive transitions, CIO transitions can be fraught with complex and unexpected challenges. Democratization of technology has made the CIO’s job more difficult—many executive leaders now see technology and systems development as not only the purview of IT but of their own functional group, which can lead to multiple shadow IT organizations. Other issues are the pervasiveness of technology in business—including as part of the business strategy—and the conflicting views business stakeholders have about the CIO’s role and responsibilities. Perhaps the most daunting challenge is the necessary shift from manager of back-office technology operations to strategic business leader and driver of topline revenue and growth.

During the last five years, Deloitte’s CIO Transition Labs have helped around 200 CIOs transition into new roles. Every transition is unique, and there is no single formula for success, but we do find consistent patterns. This report leverages lessons learned from the CIO Transition Lab experiences and hundreds of other interactions with transitioning CIOs to identify common patterns and insights. This guide helps underscore the importance of three key dimensions—timetalent, and relationships—and offers initial steps CIOs can take to better prepare for a successful transition.


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Reasons for CIO transitions

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