Analysts Answer: What Leadership Challenges Will CIOs Face in 2018?

August 29, 2017

Contributor: Kasey Panetta

Gartner analysts share why mindset, training and talent management lead the way in 2018.

Leadership is always a focus at Gartner and at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2017. Ahead of this year’s event, Smarter With Gartner reached out to analysts who will be giving sessions around the world on leadership to ask them what CIOs are facing in the coming year.

What’s the biggest leadership challenge CIOs are facing in 2018?


CIOs are dealing with even more complex challenges — and most of those challenges are not technical. They are now much more about how CIOs drive change and how they present themselves as effective leaders.

Besides having very efficient IT organizations, CIOS also need to inspire people around the entire company to behave differently, to learn and work together. People development has never been so relevant in the digital business era.

Being a better leader has become much more important than telling people what to do. CIOs need to devote much more time to increase their self-awareness and find their own purpose, their personal values, their  “why.”


Leaders are focused on ensuring the pace of change inside the organization matches or exceeds the digital-era market reality outside. In a world moving forward at breakneck speed, the slowest thing to change can be leadership thinking — the three inches between our two ears. CIOs can maximize their contribution by building people, not systems. Leaders must work on cultivating digital leadership mindsets and behaviors starting with themselves, raising the digital dexterity of the IT team, and helping equip business peers for digital business success.

In 2018, we expect leading CIOs to be actively involved in developing new leadership practices for themselves and for the IT management team, as technology becomes an integrated business function.  The push for developing algorithms and social metrics to support or enhance business decisions will require CIOs to place a priority on recruiting, training and managing knowledge workers with digital skills, artificial intelligence, and data and analytics expertise.  CIOs will need to be directly involved in business strategy development as technology is leveraged to improve and extend customer experience to drive business value.  To adjust to these new leadership responsibilities, CIOs must develop business acumen, expand their executive and board connections, and share technology decisions with a broader business team.



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2018 is going to be a breakout year for CIOs, as most enterprises and business leaders will be looking to scale their digital business initiatives. There are many issues CIOs will have to grapple with to be successful, which include: technology issues, organizational, skills, change management, and innovation. CIOs will be increasingly dependent on scaling the overall IT department – or IT leadership at a minimum - to be more of a business centric department.

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