Main Takeaways for CIOs from the Global C-Suite Study

Technological advances are transforming the way we connect, disrupting the status quo and creating huge turbulence. Industries are converging, and new opportunities and threats are emerging, as never before.

The pace of change is top of mind for CIOs. We live in an age where technology is nearly obsolete by the time it has been implemented and deployed. Gone are the days of 5-year and 7-year technology deployment plans, instead CIOs must oversee a near-continuous digital transformation of their enterprise, constantly. Add to that the critical nature of today’s technology infrastructure — i.e. can your business run without computers, networks, or the Internet — and you get a good sense for the level of stress CIOs are facing today.

In 2016, IBM’s Institute for Business Value (IBV) sought to explore the CIO’s perspective, , as part of a wider study focusing on the C-Suite. For the CIO angle, the IBV study interviewed 1,805 CIOs from around the world. The study sought to answer what the CIOs at the most successful enterprises do differently than their peers. They found a small, but distinctive group, representing about 4% of CIOs. Compared to the rest of the pack, this small group, termed the Torchbearers, stood out by their ability to be “creating intelligent, agile cultures; wising up to the needs of customers; and rewiring the way their organizations reason.” At the other extreme stood a large chunk of respondents (35%), termed Market-Followers for their lower market profile and stemming from less financially successful organizations.

When it comes to the factors that worry CIOs, 77% are worried about “the disruptive influence of new technologies” and the inability to see the next competitor in time to be able to react to them, a concern echoed by the rest of the C-Suite. Which new technologies did CIOs expect to have the most impact? They pointed to mobile solutions (71%), cloud computing (66%), and the Internet of Things (61%).

The Torchbearer Secret to Success?

No business can remain relevant by making ‘tweaks.’ The only way to stay ahead of disruptive change is to embrace it, which means being able to develop and release new products and services within weeks or even days.IBM IBV 2016 Global C-suite Study - The CIO Point of View

CIOs know that to be able to thrive — or just survive — in an era of converging industries, global competition, and high-speed innovation, they need to move towards technology investments that provide their organizations with insight and foresight, instead of a rear-view mirror vision of progress and capabilities. Seventy-one percent of Torchbearer CIOs consider the “strategic implications of new technologies,” looking to save costs but also add to the bottom line by stimulating innovation. But these CIOs also know that a traditional implementation model won’t cut it, which is why 90% of Torchbearer CIOs support agile innovation, compared to just 36% of Market-Follower CIOs.

CIOs today know they must continue to watch operating costs — in many cases do more with less — yet also provide great service quality, minimal downtime, increased agility, while also ensuring the security of the organization’s data. These are tall orders, and CIOs know that they do not have the in-house capability to deliver all these traits simultaneously.

Torchbearer CIOs are more likely to form partnerships to reap the full benefits of technological improvements. They realize the benefits of collaboration with others, not only leveraging their systems and capabilities to provide both the level and the range of services that are required for the organization to compete today, but also to continue to be competitive tomorrow. Yet all these systems and data are likely to use different operating platforms, and thus need to be integrated.

Takeaways for CIOs

But in order to provide this agility, CIOs need to rethink how they plan for and use technology to meet the ever-changing needs of the organization. Unless they have the luxury of time and the ability to manually integrate disparate systems, CIOs need help to improve the way they plan and manage the strategy around the automation and integration of IT infrastructure. This is where partnering with world-class enterprise service providers comes in. For example, in May 2017, the Everest Group named IBM as the Leader in IT Infrastructure Automation. They also pointed to IBM’s recent successes in leveraging cognitive computing to improve the way IT services are planned for, implemented, and delivered.

The most successful CIOs fully appreciate the need to forge alliances with the rest of the C-Suite, and they never lose focus on the value that they bring to all aspects of the business, from IT as critical business infrastructure, to maintaining a watchful eye over data, but also to investing in tools and technologies that will extract business intelligence out of the mountains of data. When it comes to competing and thriving in the global marketplace, Torchbearer CIOs have a strong focus on continuous technology improvements to not only drive efficiencies (e.g. savings achieved by leveraging cloud solutions), but also to provide insight and foresight, which requires leveraging technologies like cloud computing and cognitive computing (e.g., IBM Watson).
Like the rest of the C-Suite, CIOs know the pressure to provide better analytics. However, such analytics aren’t just limited to sales and marketing trends and results. Even IT can benefit from better insights into how current technology is or isn’t enabling the business to be more competitive. The question is, how are CIOs going to implement this agility, this capability to continuously adapt to change, and drive better performance and (technology) investment decisions. CIOs should look for an integration and automation partner entity that supports multiple platforms and ecosystems, supports automation, and that can provide the invaluable analytics needed to monitor service levels and drive improvements.
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CISOs Moving up in the Corporate Ladder? CIOs Shouldn't Be Worried


While Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) are relatively new members of the C-Suite for many organizations, the continued worries about cybersecurity and data breaches have compelled CEOs and boards to reconsider the positioning of the CISO function in the organizational chart.
CISOs - A Rapid Ascent
According to a Forrester study from 2015, 35% of CISOs now report directly to the CEO or president of the organization. This reality is often a little challenging — if not impossible — for CIOs to digest. After all, why is it that someone who used to report to the CIO just a decade ago now gets unfiltered access to the top leadership, and often special budget lines?
A recent blog post characterizes the evolution of the CISO role thusly: “The Guardian and Technologist is giving way to the Business Strategist, the Business Enabler and the Trusted Advisor, who articulates risk, reviews metrics and reports regularly to the board.”
A January 2017 CIO article reported that organizations where the CISO still reports to the CIO had “14% more downtime due to security incidents.” And while the majority of CISOs still report to CIOs, this situation is fluid and evolving rapidly. A K-Logix study reports that when asked about where CISOs will be reporting in the future, “50% of CISOs responded that the role will report into the CEO.”

So, while it may be tempting to consider from a loss perspective, the CISO’s rise isn’t something that CIOs can do much about, at least given the current threat environment. Instead, CIOs can look at this change in the executive landscape as an opportunity to refocus their role, and rally around causes that are relevant to both CISOs and CIOs.
The CISO as a Potential Ally of the CIO
Choose your battles wisely. After all, life isn't measured by how many times you stood up to fight. It's not winning battles that makes you happy, but it's how many times you turned away and chose to look into a better direction. Life is too short to spend it on warring. Fight only the most, most, most important ones, let the rest go. C. JoyBell C.

For decades, a CIO was often the only technology-minded person in the C-Suite. The rise of the CISO means that the CIO has a potential ally within earshot of the CEO or the board. Yet CISOs are not seeking to replace CIOs, and CIOs can no longer look at IT risks as falling purely within “their domain.” The digital risk landscape needs — requires — a functioning relationship among these two giants of the world of data.

CIOs should grab this opportunity to revisit their relationship with the CISO, openly, and seek to patch things up, especially any disagreements from the past which could continue to poison the relationship.
CISO as A Strategic Partner
While a positive working CIO-CISO relationship is definitely a must, the global marketplace and the ever-increasing cybersecurity risks mean that to be truly effective, the CIO-CISO relationship should be that of a strategic partnership: CIOs and CISOs should forge an alliance to focus both on protecting and enabling the organization through smart, effective investments in security and technology.

For example, AI and cloud are changing the way organizations are doing business, leveraging on-demand computing and storage, bringing along cost-savings and increased agility, but also presenting new challenges to keeping track of IT risks, and preparing for the inevitable breach. By working together in a strategic manner, the CIO and CISO can lean on each other to provide, on one hand the IT and data infrastructure that keeps the organization running, and on the other hand, balances cyber risks to within acceptable levels, all the while maintaining a vigilant eye on the network, devices, and data, ready to respond when needed.

The CIO, as an experienced member of the C-Suite can start building this new level of relationship by offering to share their own lessons learned and experiences with joining the top leadership, and share their concerns about the overall digital strategy of the business. For some CIOs, relinquishing control will be more challenging, but one has to pick their battles, and the positioning on the CISO isn’t one worth hanging on to, at least not in the interest of the organization, the greater good.

This post was brought to you by IBM Global Technology Services. For more content like this, visit ITBizAdvisor.com