CIOs Face New Challenges in a Data-Centric Business World

A significant percentage (46 percent) of survey respondents are looking to their CIO to learn about digital trends, the Red Hat report found.

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Companies that excel in digital leadership were found to be significantly more likely to have experienced revenue growth of 10 percent or more over the last two years, according to the results of a survey of 436 global business professionals commissioned by Red Hat.

The survey results reveal an overwhelming eagerness for digital knowledge among business leaders—especially when it comes to data—with close to three-quarters (73 percent) rating analytics extremely important to their area of the business.

Only 20 percent rate their own analytics knowledge and skills highly, and nearly half (45 percent) of survey respondents cite the lack of an appropriate forum as the biggest barrier keeping them from learning about new technology from IT leaders. More than one third (34 percent) say their IT leaders are too busy.

Lee Congdon, chief information officer (CIO) of Red Hat, told eWEEK that the most surprising finding from the survey was the one-third of enterprises that are characterized as laggards.

"Although some of this group may be there as a result of ineffective execution, at least some of these enterprises apparently don’t believe they are being or will be disrupted by digital trends," he said. "I am sure there are circumstances in some industries and some parts of the world where the disruption has not yet started. But it’s clear that it will be starting. I advise those laggard enterprises to exploit the additional lead time they apparently have and start their transitions to digital immediately."

A significant percentage (46 percent) of survey respondents are looking to their CIO to learn about digital trends. CIOs within companies that the report defines as digital leaders were more likely to be characterized by their colleagues as digital coaches or masters (45 percent).

"The most successful CIOs will be central to their enterprises’ evolution to digital. They will articulate a digital vision for their enterprise, engage their business partners, and marshal the information technology and business resources to achieve that vision," Congdon said. "They will be leaders in identifying and developing talent for the organization, and will also lead a cultural transformation to new styles of work dictated by generational change and movement away from repetitive tasks that are increasingly being automated."

He noted they will play a leadership role in setting their enterprise’s business direction and strategy, and in advising other business leaders, rather than focusing solely on process automation and efficiency.

"CIOs face many challenges, and of course the priority depends on the needs of their enterprises," Congdon said. "However, there are common themes, such as driving the enterprise to become digital in collaboration and partnership with the rest of the organization, securing the necessary information technology and business talent, and establishing the enterprise culture to thrive in the emerging digital world."

He explained the good news is that these challenges are also opportunities, as driving the enterprise to digital is an excellent leadership opportunity for IT teams.

"Improving the organization’s talent and culture is another excellent leadership opportunity," he said. "And, sustaining and improving existing information assets allows the IT team to move faster and often frees up resources for higher value contributions."