Make Your CEO the Next Digital Business Success Story

November 04, 2015

Contributor: Susan Moore

Highly successful CEOs are making digital business a key part of their strategy. How should CIOs respond?

In Gartner’s 2015 CEO survey, 25 percent of CEOs named a technology issue as one of their top three business priorities.

Partha Iyengar, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner, told CIOs at Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Goa, India that CEOs are increasingly aggressive about digital business growth and expect their digital revenues to double in the next five years.

The gap between the revenues of underperforming and outperforming companies is growing. Outperforming company CEOs now lead with digital growth.

“CEOs are eager to jump into the technology fray,” said Mr. Iyengar. “As a minimum, CIOs should look to influence the direction of digital business. Or take the lead and develop the next digital product for their organization.”

Based on Gartner’s analysis of CEO priorities, concerns and attitudes, Mr. Iyengar recommends that CIOs should:

Request and expect CEO involvement

CIOs who may have struggled in the past to get the CEOs attention on technology investments should try asking again. The environment and the CEO’s perspective may have changed quite dramatically.

Be ready to tell at least three admired CEO stories

A CIO in India’s financial services sector reported that 20 percent of his performance review is dependent on making the bank the “digital hero” in the media.

“The CIO needs to give the CEO great digital business stories to tell,” said Mr. Iyengar. “Stories stick, they spread ideas and change culture. Look outside your country, region and industry for great digital stories. Or make your CEO the next big digital story.”


Start long-term planning for digital change

Contrary to popular perception, CEOs are not just focused on quarterly results. The Gartner 2015 CEO Survey indicates that 75 percent of CEOs report that they do very long term planning, at least five, and in some cases more than 45 years, ahead. CIOs need to do long-term planning for digital change with the CFO and the board.

Drive technology education as a mission-critical project

Until leaders are clear what digital business is, followers will struggle. Some CEOs are publicly declaring a ‘digital leader’ in their organization, which is not always the CIO. Other organizations are adding digital-savvy people to the board of directors. Education of the executive team is critical and the CIO is well-placed to lead it.  

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