The Expanding Role of the CIO in 2020
February 26, 2020
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For the past 10 years, the majority of CIOs have had a transformational focus (currently 42%), however, this year, there is strong momentum in CIOs taking on more strategic responsibilities (40%), according to the 2020 State of the CIO research from IDG's CIO.

As CIOs continue to move towards a strategic role, they are also less likely to be challenged to find the right balance between business innovation and operational excellence (77% vs. 80% in 2019).


Defining CIO Responsibilities

Looking at the activities that CIOs currently spend the majority of their time on, security management (45%), aligning IT initiatives with business goals (44%), improving IT operations/systems performance (42%), implementing new systems and architectures (39%), driving business innovation (34%), and leading change efforts (34%) top the list.

Although the key activities today still appear to be transformational and functional tasks, there has been a declining shift in the percentages since the 2019 study. This year, strategic activities — for example, developing and refining business strategy, developing new go-to-market strategies and technologies, and driving business innovation — expect an increase in 6 to 7 percentage points over the next 3 years, closing the gap between the focus on transformational and strategic activities.

"This is an exciting time for CIOs, as their responsibilities continue to transition to provide value in both business growth and strategic initiatives," said Adam Dennison, SVP/General Manager, IDG Events & Publisher, CIO. "Line of business executives recognize that senior IT leaders are no longer only essential for optimizing IT infrastructure, but also for driving revenue and innovation."

Further supporting this claim, 89% of CIOs say they are more involved in leading digital transformation initiatives compared to their business counterparts. More than half (56%) of line of business (LOB) respondents agree with CIOs on their contribution to this initiative, which is up from 47% just one year ago.

CIOs also shared their CEO's tech priorities for the coming year, which include leading digital business/digital transformation initiatives, upgrading IT and data security to boost corporate resiliency, and strengthening IT and business collaboration skills. LOB counterparts shared their view on this question and showed strong alignment and consistency with IT responses, saying that the CEO's top priorities for IT are: upgrading IT and data security to boost corporate resiliency, identifying new data-driven business opportunities, helping reach a specific goal for corporate revenue growth, and leading digital business/digital transformation initiatives.

Customer-Centric CIO

Within the responsibilities and initiatives of senior IT leaders, there is a common trend around customer experience. The majority (95%) of CIOs believe their role is expanding beyond traditional IT responsibilities, with customer experience (46%) being in the top three areas they are expanding into.

Additional areas include cybersecurity (64%), data privacy/compliance (49%), operations (36%) and business development (36%).

Along the same lines of role expansion, 67% of CIOs say that the creation of new revenue-generating initiatives is among their job responsibilities. In order to complete this task, CIOs are creating business case scenarios with defined costs and benefits, creating teams focused on innovation, and directly interacting with the customer.

When asked which business initiatives will drive the most IT investment in the coming year, improving the customer experience ranked second for both heads of IT and LOB respondents.

Looking at the tech initiatives driving the most IT investment, customer experience technologies (chatbots, mobile apps, etc.) rank third for heads of IT respondents.

To dive deeper into how to drive business forward through digital advancements, business and technology leaders are invited to attend the AGENDA20 conference taking place March 23-25, 2020 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.

Methodology: The 19th annual survey was fielded online among CIO's audience with the objective of understanding the current parameters of the CIO role and how it may be changing over time. To be considered qualified, respondents must have identified themselves as a head of IT for their company or a division within it. Results are based on 679 qualified IT responses and 250 LOB responses.

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