CIOs Must Prepare for a Digital Future: Gartner

By Nathan Eddy  |  Posted 2014-01-15

Many chief information officers (CIOs) feel overwhelmed by the prospect of building digital leadership while renovating the core of IT infrastructure and capability for the digital future, according to a survey from IT research firm Gartner.

While the third era of enterprise IT, digitalization is beginning, the survey results indicated most CIOs do not feel prepared for this next era, with 51 percent of CIOs concerned that the digital torrent is coming faster than they can cope and 42 percent feeling that they don’t have the talent needed to face this future.

"The behaviors mastered in the second era of enterprise IT, like treating colleagues as customers, are potential hindrances to exploiting digitalization," Graham Waller, vice president and executive partner for Gartner Executive Programs, said in a statement. "In 2014, CIOs must face the challenge of bridging the second and third eras. They have to build digital leadership and bimodal capability, while renovating the core of IT infrastructure and capability for the digital future."

A quarter have already made significant investments in public cloud, and the majority expect more than half of their company's business to be running over public cloud by 2020.

The report also found 70 percent of CIOs plan to change their technology and sourcing relationships over the next two to three years, and many are seeking to partner with small companies and startups.

"If this transition succeeds and CIOs and their businesses 'tame the digital dragon,' massive new value for businesses can be created, and with it, a renewed role and greater credibility for the CIO and the IT organization," Dave Aron, vice president and Gartner Fellow, said in a statement. "However, if the dragon isn't tamed, businesses might fail and the relevance of the IT organization will almost certainly disappear."

Forty-five percent of the 2,339 CIOs surveyed said they have implemented agile methodologies for part of their development portfolio, although most need to go further to create separate, multidisciplinary teams, with lightweight governance and new, digital skillsets and alternative sourcing models.

The survey also found that the CEO's digital savvy is one of the best indicators of IT and business performance. To exploit new digital opportunities and ensure that the core of IT services is ready, there should be clear digital leadership, strategy and governance, and all business executives must become digitally savvy, the report noted.

"CIOs are facing all the challenges they have for many years, plus a flood of digital opportunities and threats. Digitalization raises questions about strategy, leadership, structure, talent, financing and almost everything else," Aron continued. "All industries in all geographies are undergoing digital disruption. This is both a CIO's dream come true and a career-changing leadership challenge."

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