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article imageGartner to CIOs: The days for digital 'experimentation' are over

By James Walker     Oct 3, 2017 in Technology
Artificial intelligence and new cybersecurity threats are evolving the role of the CIO, research firm Gartner says. Chief information officers are having to respond to new challenges as they scale their businesses, making it hard to stay up-to-date.
Gartner surveyed over 3,000 global CIOs to assess the challenges companies are facing as they become digital businesses. It found that the CIO title is now less about managing engineering processes and more a role designed to "exploit data." CIOs are having to pivot from being "delivery executives" to "business executives."
The reasons for the change are reflective of wider digital industry trends. The altered reality presented by new technologies like AI has forced CIOs to adapt the way they manage their organisation. AI is being used predominantly to improve customer experiences or fight fraud. It's also helping to combat evolving cyber threats which are increasingly demanding of a CIO's time.
95 percent of CIOs surveyed said they expect cybersecurity concerns to continue to impact their organisation. 35 percent have already been tasked with implementing a new digital security system. 36 percent said they're currently deploying improved protections.
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Although cybersecurity has always been a concern of CIOs, the pace and magnitude of change has shifted in the past few years. Operating in the cloud carries different considerations to legacy on-premises systems, a problem that comes with unique challenges for CIOs. Many currently lack the skills to fully utilise or secure their networks.
Digital scaling
Experts who are familiar with managing hyper-scale clouds are still low in numbers and demanded across the industry.
The difficulties aren't entirely thwarting transformation though. Gartner found most CIOs are looking ahead and persevering in turning digital visions into deployments. Gartner vice president Andy Rowsell-Jones said firms are moving from "digital experimentation" to "digital scaling" as they become more familiar with new technology, a progression that should be encouraged.
Lessons are being learnt from early pilot programs so they can be applied to larger projects designed to cement a company's cloud presence. Gartner said the most important task for CIOs is to keep implementing digital strategies while maintaining business growth and preserving internal culture.
54 percent of IT leaders say their businesses will fail if they don t digitally transform within fou...
54 percent of IT leaders say their businesses will fail if they don't digitally transform within four years / Pexels
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"CIOs are on the road from digital experimentation to digital scaling," said Rowsell-Jones. "However, a wall exists between those early digital experiments and pilots, and those that have achieved digital scale. Perhaps the biggest brick in that wall is organizational culture.
"CIOs need to identify the cultural behaviors that currently exist and what the future state vision is. In doing so, they must recognize existing cultural strengths and position cultural change as 'the next chapter,' rather than a massive overhaul, to respect employees' contributions and invite them to come along on the journey."
The effects of digital transformation are necessitating company-wide change at every firm embracing new technologies. No position is shielded from the need to adapt to the altered operating environment, including that of the CIO. At many large businesses, the CIO now reports directly to the CEO and oversees a dedicated digital team. This leaves the CIO themselves establishing the "bench strength" that positions the company to scale its digital business.
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