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CIOs pose risk to digital transformation

CIOs pose risk to digital transformation

The relatively short tenures of UK chief information officers (CIO) is putting digital transformation strategies at risk, a new study warns.

These rapid and constant job changes are resulting in a so-called “CIO cycle” where organisations lack the continuity of leadership needed to see through large-scale transformation projects.

Only 42% CIOs “fulfilled their vision” in most recent role

One in six CIOs reckon they will last less than three years in their current post

The findings are in a whitepaper from Citrix, Nowhere to hide: UK CIOs and the age of digital change, which revealed half of the CIOs (51 per cent) surveyed spent less than five years in their last role. Meanwhile, 48 per cent expect to spend less than five years in their current post with one in six (16 per cent) reckoning they won’t last three years.

Some 400 CIOs were quizzed for the report to learn about the challenges they faced and where their organisations sit on the transformation journey.

The report also highlighted a pronounced lack of confidence and positivity about the role with only two-fifths of respondents managing to “fulfil their vision” and a further 53 per cent believing they achieved just “some” of their goals.

Furthermore, CIOs are being held back from achieving their objectives by having to operate in politically charged environments. One quarter claim that internal politics and “sacred cows” – or ideas or ways of working are “immune to criticism” as well as budget constraints. More than one fifth of senior directors also wanted to see an immediate return on investment.

To justify the right IT investment to the board, over half (52 per cent) of CIOs wanted leaders to refocus return on investment (ROI) in terms of what more can be done, not how much can be saved. A similar number (45 per cent) also called for the board to foster a bigger appetite for risk.

CIOs need patience, backing and autonomy

“Moving forward CIOs need patience, backing, and autonomy from the board so that they feel motivated to remain in their role for longer and turn their vision into a reality,” said Darren Fields, regional director for sales UK and Ireland at Citrix, writing in a blog post on the report.

“Given the importance of technology and IT in digital transformation, I feel certain the CIO role will become ever more critical in 2019, and it is important we understand and support it properly.”

Commenting on the findings, Rialto director, Richard Chiumento, reckons it is time for the board to truly support the CIO in the organisation’s digital transformation efforts. “This means eradicating all of the barriers to transformation, especially internal politics, entrenched views and unrealistic budgets,” he said.

“These findings also suggest that too many leaders simply don’t understand the depth of change a digital transformation programme entails nor its overall purpose,” he continued.

“Rather than expect an immediate return on investment, these programmes are about ensuring the organisation is fit for the future and will be able to sustain its position in increasingly competitive and complex markets.”

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