lights

Perspectives

CIO Insider

Inside the world of business and IT

Welcome to the CIO Insider, a business insights series from Deloitte. Dedicated to helping chief information officers (CIOs) and technology executives address their most complex challenges, the Insider provides a mix of broad business insights, combined with deep technical knowledge and fact-based research.

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Bridging the boardroom's technology gap

Tech-focused directors can help boards stay ahead of the technology curve

As businesses increasingly become digital, corporate boards are beginning to realize that technology expertise is a powerful asset. A tech–savvy board can help drive business growth, increase competitive advantage, and effectively manage risks.

Our latest article in the CIO Insider collection explores how tech–savvy directors can help corporate boards understand and oversee tech–driven initiatives and opportunities through a three–pronged approach:

  • Appoint a business–savvy technologist
  • Take an offensive technology position
  • Consider a technology committee

IT culture: From business limitation to competitive advantage

An organization's culture—the behavior and values that drive the way work is done—can have a major impact on business performance, customer experience, and talent engagement. A global survey of C–suite executives showed that more than two–thirds (69 percent) believe company culture has a critically important impact on their organization's ability to realize its mission and vision.

In this paper, we discuss the many cultural challenges that CIOs face and propose the use of a cultural change model that allows them to help improve cultural outcomes. Through our global CIO survey and CIO interviews, we identify three primary types of healthy IT cultures that CIOs can curate within their organizations to help deliver competitive advantage to their businesses. Finally, we describe the characteristics of high-performing IT cultures.

How CIOs lead in high-performing companies

Deloitte’s global survey of more 1,200 CIOs explored the evolution of the CIO from back-office technology manager to C-suite business leader. In CIO interviews, we found that environment is one of the key factors for CIO success.

High performing companies (HPC) Chief Information Officers (CIOs) may not necessarily be better performers, but we assume that high-performing organizations require them to cultivate unique skills and capabilities and use their technology, operational, and leadership skills in different ways than CIOs in other companies. This year’s analysis reveals that technology leaders at HPCs differentiate from their peers across four dimensions. HPC CIOs:

  • Prioritize business performance and growth
  • Are competitive, deliberate, and direct
  • Choose to be exceptional in delivering critical IT capabilities
  • Focus on delivering large technology initiatives

Nine competencies that can elevate the CIO to business leader

The modern CIO’s job description places equal emphasis on operational know-how, dynamic leadership, and practical business acumen. Our global CIO survey and interviews with CIOs and business stakeholders confirm that CIOs want to hone their leadership skills and develop new competencies to take on the role of business leader. Currently, 55 percent of CIOs surveyed report that they are primarily focused on operational and execution responsibilities—leaving little time for more strategic tasks. Fifty-two percent want to change the way they currently spend their time across various responsibilities.

Although orchestrating business and IT operations is a table stakes expectation, it represents only a single leg of a three-legged stool that supports the CIO’s transition from technology leader to business leader. Nine competencies in three functional areas—operational stewardship, IT leadership, and entrepreneurship—will help CIOs transition from technology leader to business leader.

The CIO's innovation agenda

As scientific and technological disruptions fuel business growth, the CIO is expected to be the catalyst of innovative new business capabilities. Often this directive comes from executive management without clear expectations or outcomes. As part of Deloitte’s recent CIO Survey, 58 percent of CIOs said that “helping in business innovation” is a core expectation of the IT organization. Yet innovation remains a nebulous concept for many organizations and their CIOs, who consequently struggle to understand their role and mandate.

CIOs, with their exposure to processes across business functions, understand how information flows and how technology can shape or support innovation. They are in an excellent position to drive innovation within and outside their organizations.

In this report, we explore the number of ways in which CIOs can contribute to and drive innovation within their organizations.

What do CIOs in high-performing companies do differently?

They prioritize performance, relationships, customers, talent, and cybersecurity

It’s widely recognized that technology is essential to the effectiveness of every organization today, and that every CIO wants to drive and deliver value. But the contribution of the CIO to the overall achievement of a company varies widely—by industry, competitive landscape, and organizational culture, among other factors.

These variances beg the question: Is there something that sets apart the CIOs at high-performing companies (HPCs)? Indeed, through our research and analysis of more than 1,200 CIOs we found that technology leaders at HPCs are generally distinguished from their peers by five practices. They:

  • Prioritize performance and growth over cost
  • Consider relationships with the CFO and business unit leaders more important than the relationship with the CEO
  • Invest in grooming, motivating, and engaging talent
  • Focus on customer experience as a competitive differentiator
  • Link cybersecurity and privacy investments to growth and customers

Perhaps as a result of these practices, CIOs in HPCs are treated differently by their organizations—they have more budget control and strategic input and, typically, more credibility and influence.

In this report, we explore the five practices of CIOs in HPCs and the implications for all CIOs.

What differentiates successful CIOs? Social intelligence

Virtually every company is becoming a technology company at its core. This puts chief information officers (CIOs) at a crossroads: They can step up to the challenge and become leaders who influence the business, or remain in the confines of the traditional CIO role, limited to influencing technology implementation and delivery.

The direction each CIO takes will determine his or her future career trajectory and professional legacy. Some CIOs are embracing this challenge head-on, while others remain in the background, conceding technology leadership to those with titles such as chief innovation officer or chief digital officer.

Deloitte’s CIO Program recently evaluated CIO skills gaps and uncovered three specific gaps. Interestingly, all three gaps pointed to a bigger issue for CIOs—we call it “social intelligence.” Social intelligence is a term used to describe the capacity to effectively navigate and negotiate complex social relationships and environments.

We’ve modified this definition for CIOs as:

The ability of a technology leader to influence key business stakeholders, attract and motivate talent, and drive technology vision and leadership.

These [skills] are some of the most important things.… If there wasn’t such a dearth of these attributes in the technology space they wouldn’t be as important.

– CIO of large national health care organization

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