Published on October 29, 2023, 9:40 pm

CIOs and IT leaders need to prioritize digital initiatives that drive growth and demonstrate financial impact. They should focus on improving operational excellence, enhancing customer experience, and growing revenue. Creating a metrics hierarchy, engaging with business unit leaders, and leveraging unconventional talent sources can accelerate the realization of digital dividends. Organizations must adapt to the changing landscape and leverage technology to stay ahead in today's digital-driven world.

CIOs and IT leaders have an important role to play in driving enterprise growth and delivering value from digital investments. This was the key finding from Gartner’s recent annual global survey of CIOs and technology executives.

“The pressure on CIOs to deliver digital dividends is higher than ever,” emphasized Daniel Sanchez Reina, Vice President Analyst at Gartner. He explained that CEOs and boards expected digital investments to bring about significant growth beyond what was previously achievable. Now, there is an expectation for these digital improvements to be reflected in enterprise financials.

The survey revealed that CIOs are anticipating an average increase of 5.1% in IT budgets for 2023, which falls below the projected global inflation rate of 6.5%. Factors such as economic pressure, scarcity of talent, and ongoing supply challenges are creating a “triple squeeze” that is driving the need for faster time-to-value.

To deliver on these expectations and demonstrate the financial impact of investments, CIOs should focus on four key areas:

1. Prioritize the right digital initiatives: The survey showed that improving operational excellence (53%) and enhancing customer or citizen experience (45%) were the top objectives for digital technology investment in the past two years. However, only 27% cited growing revenue as a primary objective. CIOs should prioritize market-facing initiatives with growth impact to drive financial outcomes.

2. Create a metrics hierarchy: Developing a clear vision for digital change can be challenging due to competing expectations from different stakeholders. CIOs can overcome this by using a visual metrics hierarchy that demonstrates interdependencies across related digital initiatives. Establishing accountability partnerships with functional leaders will help define improvement goals and measures.

3. Contribute IT talent to business-led fusion teams: While strategic engagement with business unit leaders is crucial, the survey highlighted an IT mindset of “go it alone” when it comes to solution delivery. Reina emphasized the need for CIOs to embrace democratized digital delivery by involving business technologists and equipping them with the tools to build digital capabilities. Loaning IT staff to fusion teams that combine expertise from various domains will accelerate digital initiatives.

4. Reduce the talent gap with unconventional resources: Finding and retaining IT talent remains a challenge for many CIOs. However, the survey identified untapped sources of technology talent, such as students and gig workers. Reina stressed that engaging unconventional talent sources can help overcome talent shortages and expedite the realization of digital dividends.

By focusing on these four areas, CIOs and IT leaders can accelerate time-to-value, drive enterprise growth, and demonstrate the financial impact of their digital investments. It is crucial for organizations to adapt to the changing landscape and leverage technology to stay ahead in today’s digital-driven world.

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