CIO critical for driving growth and productivity

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The dramatic shift towards a digital economy has put significant pressure on the leadership of many businesses to embrace technology as more than a support function and ensure the CIO is a key member of the executive.

According to EY’s DNA of the CIO report released last month, less than one in five CIOs (17%) have a seat at the top table and less than half of CIOs (43%) are deeply involved in executive decision-making.

The report, based on a survey of more than 300 senior IT professionals globally, including Australia, also draws on in-depth interviews with CIOs and other executive management, to capture views about the changing role of the CIO.

“If business is to respond effectively to challenging market conditions, and drive necessary cost reductions, productivity gains and shareholder value, then CIOs must have a seat at the top table. Unfortunately, we are seeing that in a number of companies the value of the CIO is not being exploited to its full potential.” Jason McLean, IT Advisory Leader, EY

Building relevance across the C-suite

Less than half (48%) of the C-suite executives interviewed think the standing of CIOs has improved in recent years on a range of issues from product innovation through to helping deliver on the operational agility of the company.

While 60% of CIOs think they add strong value to fact-based decision-making when setting corporate strategy, just 35% of their C-suite peers agree. Additionally, just 43% of CIOs report that they are deeply involved in strategic decision-making.

This low level of involvement is reflected in nearly four in 10 (38%) respondents reporting a lack of support from the executive management team as a major issue, particularly within larger companies.

“We are seeing many examples of organisations where the opportunity to engage in a wider discussion about the value of technology and innovation to the business has been and continues to be overlooked,” according to Jason Mclean.

“CIOs acknowledge that it will be difficult to change some outdated perceptions of being a purely cost control function, but doing so will be a pre-requisite for recasting the role of the CIO, and IT, within the wider business in the future.”

Moving beyond IT budgets to strategic advisor

Previously, IT leaders have not done enough to reach out to the rest of the business to develop significant relationships that can support their wider change efforts. IT’s long-running history as a cost control function means CIOs hold the closest relationship with the CFO.

“CIOs know that they need to engage better with the CEO and the Board if they are to move the conversation beyond the basics and discuss how technology will enable new products and services, distribution strategies and business models. The future CIO will need to be a business executive that improves the awareness and understanding of how information and technology can be used as a unique source of innovation and competitive advantage,” Jason Mclean added.

The value of the CIO role is clear. Working with the Board, CEO and other executives, the CIO has the potential to influence the business in a unique way that can work across organisational boundaries to unlock efficiencies and productivity advantages that can truly maximise shareholder value.

To find out more information and download the report, visit www.ey.com/dna-cio

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