Say goodbye to the digital commander- the new IT leader is a digital visionary

76% cent of CIOs in EMEA need to adapt their leadership style in the next three years if they want to succeed in the new digital business environment. This is according to the results of the latest CIO suvey from analyst firm Gartner, who polled 2,810 CIOs worldwide, representing more than $397 billion in IT budgets from 84 countries.

Gartner analyst Dave Aron said the vast majority of these CIOs to need to ‘flip’ long-held behaviours and beliefs if they want to be effective leaders.

'These are not small changes,' he said. 'They demand commitment and focus from the CIO, and it is critical for CIOs to partner with their most important business stakeholders to develop a shared understanding of digitalisation and what it means for the business.'

> See also: Gartner identifies six steps to building a successful digital business

The report emphasised the need to move away from 'command and control' style leadership, with 45% of the CIOs surveyed saying they needed to increase their 'visionary' input instead of just commanding IT.

Gartner advises that as well as running the IT department, CIOs must always have one eye on digital trends on the horizon and fully participate in digital experiments and innovations.

'Digital has moved to centre stage- so has the opportunity for CIOs to flip their digital leadership from ‘legacy first’ to ‘digital first’,' said Aron.

CIOs must not view the Nexus of Forces (cloud, information, mobile and social) as the end of the journey to digital business and they should invest in a new set of digital technologies, stressed Gartner. Encouragingly, EMEA, 74% of CIOs in EMEA said they have the Internet of Things on their radar or are experimenting with or already using it.

But being a powerful leader and influencer takes time. Running an IT organisation is a complex business, and when the CIO survey results from 2011 are compared to this latest survey, the findings showed that the average CIO is spending 5% more time (an extra day per month), running the IT department.

'CIOs must make time for leadership,' said Graham Waller vice president and executive partner for Gartner Executive Programs. 'We found that CIOs with higher performance as IT leaders appoint a deputy responsible for running the whole IT shop day to day. This gives them an extra 5% of time (a day per month), to engage with the board, senior leadership and external customers. In EMEA, 51% of CIOs have such a deputy.'

> See also: Leadership in the age of digital transformation

Seizing the digital opportunity also requires the evolution of information and analytics in the organisation, and less backwards-looking reporting.

'CIOs are shifting the centre of gravity from backward-looking reporting to forward-looking data-led experimentation,' said Mr Aron. '80% of EMEA CIOs said they are shifting their focus to forward-looking predictive analytics, and 77% are shifting their emphasis to active experimentation informed by data.'

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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