Gartner Symposium 2017: The changing role of the CIO

Gartner Symposium 2017: The changing role of the CIO
Gartner Symposium 2017.
Gartner Symposium 2017: The changing role of the CIO
Gartner Symposium 2017.

Research firm, Gartner, revealed the results of their 2018 CIO Agenda survey at the 2017 Gartner Symposium on Tuesday 19 September 2017 in Cape Town, South Africa. The survey revealed insight into how the role of a CIO is rapidly changing as well as provided key insight into areas of focus and investment of CIOs in Africa.

77 percent of CIO survey respondents in Africa revealed digital business has created a change-ready mindset. The survey also showed that 50 percent of CIO respondents in Africa are responsible for the digital transformation strategy of their organisation, and 43 percent are in charge of innovation.

“CIOs in Africa are fully embracing and capitalising on digital business,” said Tomas Nielsen, research director at Gartner. “Among respondents from Africa, on average, 29 percent of organisations’ processes have been optimised through digital means. As a result, their role is moving to non-IT responsibilities, forcing them to reimagine their role within the organisation.”

The 2017 Gartner CIO Agenda Survey gathered data from 3,160 CIO respondents in 98 countries and all major industries, representing approximately $13 trillion in revenue/public-sector budgets and $277 billion in IT spending. 66 CIOs from Africa were surveyed, representing $3 billion in IT spending.

Most CIOs in Africa Are Designing or Delivering Digital Business and Becoming Transformational Leaders to Scale and Harvest
CIO respondents in Africa have made significant inroads in their digital journey. The survey showed that 45 percent of CIOs in Africa are either designing or delivering their digital initiative, while 13 percent moved beyond delivery into scaling and harvesting on their digital initiatives.

However, the majority of CIO respondents in Africa remain in the initial stages of their digital journey – and for these CIOs, the biggest barrier is the organisation’s culture. “Nearly half of all CIOs said that culture is the biggest barrier that prevents them from scaling their digital business transformation,” said Nielsen. “Their second highest challenge is shortage of resources.” This means that CIOs in Africa need to embrace a broader role beyond technology, and hone their change management and transformational leadership skills to succeed in their digital transformation journey.

Digital Business Requires New and Increased Digital Technology Investments
“Digital business is clearly taking centre stage among the IT department,” said Nielsen. “It is also eroding the barriers to change and increasing the adoption of new technologies and trends in Africa.”

The survey found that along with investment into new technologies, investment into cybersecurity has been a critical area for CIOs in Africa.

The survey found that 36 percent of CIOs in Africa have already invested and deployed a digital security solution and an additional 30 percent are already actively experimenting with digital security. Twenty-nine percent of CIO respondents in Africa who are in short-term planning or already invested in digital security said it will necessitate the newest skills to be added to the IT department by the time the solution is operational.

“Following the recent cyberattacks, it is not surprising that cybersecurity investments take centre stage in Africa,” said Nielsen. 96 percent of respondents believe that cybersecurity threats will increase in the next three years. Increased focus and need for cybersecurity has essentially become the unavoidable consequence of the recent years of growth in cyberattacks. “CIOs should pay increased attention to this space, as it has direct attention from both corporate executives and external board members,” added Nielsen.

The Internet of Things (IoT) was ranked as the second highest investment in digital technologies by CIO respondents in Africa. The survey found that 11 percent of CIOs in Africa have already invested and deployed IoT, 17 percent are actively experimenting with it, and 25 percent have medium or long-term planning for IoT. “Interest in artificial intelligence (AI) is also growing with most respondents indicating AI is either on their radar or a medium to long-term plan for 38 and 27 percent of CIOs in Africa, respectively, with only 2 percent having deployed AI,” said Nielsen.

How Digital Business Is Changing the Capabilities Needed from the CIO
Digital change is causing the role of the CIO to evolve. Respondents reported that they were spending 38 percent of their time with the executive leadership team – up 8 percentage points from three years ago. CIOs are increasingly involved in traditional business tasks such as cost optimisation, building business agility, and developing business strategy and planning. In addition, CIOs are increasingly being assessed on business-focused metrics as well as IT-performance metrics.

“The financial outlook for IT in Africa looks promising as there will be more money allocated to IT in 2018,” said Nielsen. CIOs in Africa expect their enterprise IT budget to increase 3.1 percent, on average in 2018. This is up from an average of 2.5 percent last year. CIOs in Africa expect to spend the highest amount of new or additional funding in 2018 on business intelligence and analytics (16 percent of respondents), cybersecurity (16 percent of respondents) and digitalisation (15 percent of respondents), while 40 percent reported decreasing their spending on data centres.

“The key is to increase investment in technologies that help organisations reach their business objectives. CIOs should align their priorities with the priorities of their C-level partners. This requires that they know what those priorities are,” concluded Nielsen.

By Dean Workman
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