Infographic: How CIOs can become digital leaders

In a recent blog we outlined the characteristics of a digitally-enabled enterprise. These include, among others, a willingness to transform, a customer centric mindset, and a focus on data. Also central to these organisations however is a strong leader with a passion for all things digital. The CIO might be the obvious person for the job, but as technology has begun to infiltrate other areas of the business, IT leaders have competition on their hands. How can CIOs take ownership of digital strategy within their organisations and become that leader?

Whose job is it anyway?

A recent survey of 396 organisations worldwide conducted by Accenture Interactive and Forrester Consulting found significant differences in opinion as to who should own digital vision and strategy. CIOs topped the list but with only a 30 per cent share of the votes. Other high scoring candidates were the CEO with 27 per cent, the CDO (Chief Digital Officer) with 17 per cent, and the CMO with 8 per cent.

While technology is integral to digital transformation, business strategy, operating processes, and metrics also need to be aligned to make that transformation successful. Managing Director of Accenture Interactive, Jay Dettling said, “The leader who sets the vision and strategy needs to have a strong handle on the technology and a clear understanding of the other elements as well”. That means the person in charge of digital needs to be both technologically and strategically savvy.

Perhaps, then, the digital leadership potential of CIOs is being doubted because of a perceived lack of business acumen? Dettling continues, “You're going to be making a significant investment in technology, but if you're a business leader and you think that's the main point of emphasis, you're going to be missing the other legs of the stool. The best way to support business alignment is to make sure the digital tactics support the overall business strategy”. To prove themselves, CIOs need to ensure that any organisational redesign will provide the responsiveness and scale to effectively support business objectives. New designs should map out new roles and services and include metrics so their performance can be tested and measured.

Mastering digital

A recent study conducted by the Harvard Business Review (HBR) found that CIOs at digitally-enabled enterprises understand which digital knowledge is important for functional areas, provide useful information about technology to their business colleagues in language they can understand, drive business-led IT initiatives, and can be identified as ‘digital coaches’ or ‘digital masters’.

Using the results of this study, HBR, together with The Enterprisers Project, created an infographic outlining the seven strategies CIOs are using to become the designated digital leader at their organisations. We’ve included it below:


For more advice on how to take ownership of digital strategy in your organisation, download our complimentary how-to guide to IT leadership: Aligning business and IT: A practical guide for leading change in a service defined world.

Tags business leadership, CIO, digital strategy, Digital Transformation, CIO Leadership, digital-enabled enterprise, IT leaders


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