CIOs Focusing on 'Keeping the Lights On' Instead of Digital Strategies

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CIOs Focusing on 'Keeping the Lights On' Instead of Digital Strategies

Nearly all organizational leaders consider digital a top business priority—but few companies actually have an enterprise-wide digital strategy in place, according to a recent survey from Deloitte. It doesn’t help that most CIOs reveal that their main role is to “keep the lights on” with respect to the operational oversight of IT, as opposed to leading impactful tech change. As a result, less than one in 10 companies are considered “digital vanguards”—organizations that have developed a digital strategy and employ an IT department that’s considered a market leader. More than 1,400 global CIOs, top tech execs and business leaders took part in the research. This slide show presents survey highlights, with charts provided courtesy of Deloitte. 

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Digital Strategy Remains Elusive

Nearly all survey respondents—96 percent—identify digital as a strategic business priority. But only 26 percent said their organizations have an enterprise-wide digital strategy in place.

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Most CIOs Focused on Operations Instead of Change

Only 9 percent of CIOs said they are considered “change instigators” and just 36 percent think of themselves as “business co-creators.” The majority—55 percent—said they function as “trusted operators,” or tech leaders who are depended upon for “keep[ing] the lights on and trains running”-type operational roles.

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Few CIOs Lead Digital Transformation

Just 40 percent of CIOs said they lead their company’s digital strategy. It’s more likely that they either consider themselves “partners” in this effort (as cited by 30 percent of CIOs), “supporters” (15 percent) or advisors (12 percent).

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Organizations Fail to Ascend to 'Vanguard' Level

Less than 10 percent of respondents consider their organization as a “digital vanguard”—one that has a digital strategy with an IT department that’s considered a market leader. Among 87 percent of respondents, IT is perceived of as, at best, a “fast follower” or, at worst, a “laggard” or “delinquent.”

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Top Performers Boost Customer-Focused Capabilities

Nearly two-thirds of CIOs at “digital vanguard” organizations report strong relationships with customer-facing business functions. However, only one-half of those at lower-performing “baseline” companies make the same claim.

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Innovation Brings Recruitment Edge

One-half of CIOs at “digital vanguard” companies consider being an innovative leader as a recruiting advantage. In contrast, just one in five of those at “baseline” organizations agree with this.

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Change-Drivers Stake Leadership Claim

The findings reveal that 57 percent of CIOs feel that their ability to deliver major organizational change contributes significantly to their personal success as a leader. Within three years, 66 percent of CIOs said this quality will contribute significantly to this degree of success.

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High Aspirations for Team Building

Another major indicator of leadership among CIOs is the ability to build high-performing teams, as cited by 53 percent of CIOs. Within three years, 63 percent of CIOs said this capability will stand out as a key indicator of their leadership ability.

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Process Automation Leads Digital Priorities

Nearly seven of 10 respondents said process automation and transformation has emerged as a primary focus area of digital initiatives within their organization. About two-thirds cited the improvement of customer experiences/engagement as another top focus.

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Major Initiatives Include IT Infrastructure, Cloud and Platforms

Just over one-half of respondents said one of their biggest digital focus areas are IT infrastructure/cloud initiatives. And nearly as many also cited enterprise platforms.

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Customer and Talent Needs Suffer From Lack of Digital Leadership

With executive leaders struggling to keep up with digital transformation requirements, customer experiences remain "stuck in time" and employees go without critical skills training.