Despite a time of unprecedented investment in digital infrastructure and transformation, more than two-thirds (68%) of chief information officers (CIOs) worldwide believe their CIO organization is not completely prepared to help their companies withstand another major business disruption. Further, less than half (44%) agree strongly that they are well-positioned to support company growth after the pandemic, according to a study announced by Genpact.
Genpact’s research, Pilots, co-pilots, and engineers: digital transformation insights from CIOs for CIOs, conducted in partnership with the MIT Sloan CIO Symposium, presents the views of 500 CIOs and technology leaders on lessons learned in weathering the storm of the pandemic and preparedness for the journey forward.
The study reveals three distinct types of CIOs: pilots, co-pilots, and engineers, each with varying levels of influence over guiding change in their companies. Only 22% of CIOs are pilots, leading the way and driving the transformation journey strategically across core business functions. The largest cohort, 61%, are co-pilots partnering with business leaders to shape and deliver transformation. And 17% of CIOs are the engineers, simply executing not driving transformation.
A CIO’s ability to drive digital transformation in the right places at the right time can make or break a business. During the past year’s disruption, CIOs who invested in migrating data centers to the cloud, automating processes, upskilling employees, adopting advanced analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) adapted most successfully. Looking to the future, pilots are innovating, co-pilots are modernizing, and engineers are playing catch up.
“Our global study validates what we’re seeing across our clients. As the power of the cloud, data, and AI redefine the future of work, the CIO role is evolving exponentially, but not equally,” said Sanjay Srivastava, chief digital officer, Genpact, who will present the research findings in a keynote today at the MIT Sloan CIO Symposium. “Transformation pilot CIOs who drive alignment across the C-suite and put the organizational focus on building resilience and innovation will be the co-creators of new business models and future-ready companies. CIOs who do not will see their organizations struggle.”
Other significant findings from Genpact’s CIO study include:
- Influencing the CEO’s agenda is critical to CIOs’ transformation success
The findings show that it is not enough simply to have access to the CEO, but rather to have a seat at the table in influencing the CEO agenda. It’s clear that to drive strategic change, a CIO needs to report at a high organizational level, ideally to the CEO. But for the most successful CIOs, regular CEO meetings, not just reporting lines, make all the difference in the ability to leverage combined business and technology expertise to influence the company’s strategic business agenda.
- Being a data-led organization is imperative to success
CIOs are aligned on the need to be data driven. Almost all (98%) agree that their companies make data-driven decisions to realize business value. Respondents cite AI and ML as the top technologies that will help CIOs achieve their goals, and the top choice for investment if they had additional financial resources. These technologies allow CIOs to make the most of the data at their disposal, generating predictive insights for more informed decision-making.
- In the virtual world of work, CIOs are overlooking HR
As the pandemic forced more focus on employee safety, 41% of respondents said that their CIO organization was responsible for helping to track employee wellbeing. Despite this, human resources still ranked last among the functional areas that CIOs prioritized for full-stack technology investment over the next two years. This warns of a potential disconnect in meeting employee needs with new remote and hybrid office models emerging.
- CIOs are pivotal in connecting employee and customer experience
Accountability for the customer experience (CX) is something 40% of transformation pilots believe their CIO organization is responsible for, compared to just 22% of engineers. In fact, CIOs are uniquely positioned to connect CX and employee experience (EX) technologies. Only when employees are digitally enabled can they deliver the experiences customers expect.
“CIOs who are not prepared for business disruption and post-pandemic growth risk becoming obsolete,” said Tom Davenport, distinguished professor at Babson College, visiting professor at Oxford, and research fellow at the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy, and a co-author of the Genpact study. “Genpact’s research provides insights on how all three types of CIOs can take the pilot’s seat to accelerate digital business transformation and business growth.”