Brazil Context: 'CEOs and CIOs Must Co-Design the C-Suite for Digital Leadership'
The "digital revolution" is a new phenomenon that is already causing major business disruption. Enterprises are struggling to be part of it, but there aren't any clear winners yet. CIOs in Brazil must deal with specific local circumstances and help CEOs seize this opportunity.
Enterprises are resolutely getting their armies in place to be winners in the digital revolution. Gartner points out that a critical step in this endeavor is the appointment of the right digital leaders. CEOs and CIOs should collaborate in the careful development of those C-suite roles (for example, the currently hyped chief digital officer, focused on business creation, and the more permanent chief data officer, focused on information assets) and in their integration with existing roles, as the role of CIO itself.
In Brazil, this scenario acquires a couple of different twists. Enterprises headquartered in Brazil are generally smaller than their counterparts in more developed countries, while IT costs for hardware, software and telecommunications are higher. As a result, there is not much room for multiple C-suite digital leader roles. At the same time, Brazilian CIOs have operations excellence as an important focus, and may not be ready for the digitalization challenge.
Can Brazilian CIOs become the overall digital business leader in the enterprise, coordinating other digital leadership roles (possibly not C-level roles)? Many may not be capable of taking these new duties and will evolve to a CTO or COO role, while a new "digital CIO" is hired from the outside. However, the digital revolution may be Brazilian CIOs' best personal opportunity to rise above operations, to a business level. As CIOs, they already bring to the table enterprisewide knowledge of information, processes and infrastructure. They practice collaborative solution creation. However, that is not enough. Additionally, they must look outside; understand the impact of the digital revolution in their business environment and in the enterprise itself, its opportunities and risks; and foster innovation under that new perspective. They must sharpen their communication and marketing skills, reinforcing the strategic nature of their role at a higher level.
Above all, they must become a new kind of leader, the digital leader. They must relinquish control over day-to-day operations to another person, a peer or an immediate subordinate position, and focus on digital business. They must create the enterprise's unique digital story and rally people to participate in the creation of this exciting new future. They must become the CEO's trusted advisor on that journey. The digital revolution is recent, and there are no clear winners yet. The new technologies define a new starting gate and reset the scores to zero. Brazilian enterprises have a new opportunity to compete in the global market. Brazilian digital CIOs must help CEOs seize this opportunity — and the moment is now.