As the boundaries of the CIO playing field blur, the high-level expectations of performance increases alongside.
“Every company today is a technology company,” Deloitte research director, Khalid Kark, said.
“CIOs are involved not just in driving efficiency, but also in reimagining customer experiences, reshaping how work gets done, and even rewiring business models.”
For Kark, this is not just rhetoric, with the Deloitte findings illustrating that organisations big and small, across industries, and across geographies, share common business priorities, which are all directly linked to the heart of the business.
According to Kark, CIOs around the globe were nearly unanimous in identifying the leading business priorities, with five dominating the agenda; performance, cost, customers, innovation, and growth.
“These top priorities were consistent across industry, geography, and size of organisation,” said Kark, citing one understandable exception.
“Only CIOs involved in the public sector selected “cybersecurity” over “growth” as a top business priority.”
Kark said CIOs have moved from leading a supporting function to managing a business function, with business leaders now expecting them to not only contribute to the bottom-line business priorities but also to enable and even drive top-line initiatives.
Consequently, many CIO are simultaneously juggling business performance and growth objectives with IT cost reduction and efficiency improvement.
The four priorities that did not make the top five list are also significant, with regulations and reconfiguration important for some but not for all CIOs.
In addition, cybersecurity and talent were lower enterprise priorities, perhaps because they are fundamental for achieving other priorities, or because they don’t drive profitability, or maybe because responsibility for these are shared with other executives.
“But both are critical building blocks that could impact all five top priorities, so it could be risky to ignore or deprioritise them,” Kark added.
With the exception of the public sector, the top five priorities were consistent across industries, though there were some differences in emphasis.
“Customers remain a focal point for travel and media,” Kark explained. “Almost three in four CIOs from travel, media, and hospitality selected “customer” as their top business priority.”
Meanwhile, cost dominates the CIO agendas in the government and energy sectors, with a majority of respondents in government (65 per cent) and energy and resources (59 per cent) picking “cost” as a top business priority.
Delving deeper, Kark said performance and growth are top of mind for consumer business, manufacturing, and health care CIOs, with more than half selecting these as business priorities.
Furthermore, CIOs in technology and telecom, as well as in financial services, identified innovation as the top business mandate, with 58 per cent and 50 per cent identifying it as a business priority, respectively.
Think ecosystem, not industry
“CIOs today are operating in an environment where industry boundaries are blurring, supplanted by forces within their ecosystem of allies, partners, customers, and even competitors,” Kark added.
“Internal company goals and external competitive pressures are now dictating priorities, and CIOs must be able to operate “outside-in” with regard to their industry context.”
In short, Kark said CIO business priorities were not confined to their industry; in fact, more than half of the CIOs picked one business priority different from their industry’s top three business priorities.
That said, it’s essential to put first things first because “if you don’t fulfil basic performance expectations, you’re a sitting duck.”
This article originally appeared in the September issue of ARN magazine - to subscribe, please click here