by Sunil Shah

India Inc Wants CIOs to Lead Digital Transformation. Hell Yeah!

Nov 01, 2015
BusinessCIOCloud Computing

Youu2019ve read the headlines debating whether chief digital officers will take over the CIO job. Forget themu2014at least in India. Hereu2019s why.

Over the last 18 months, the tech media’s been salivating over the idea that chief digital officers (CDOs) could shove CIOs aside and reign supreme over IT departments. And who can blame them? If you’re a tech journalist, the idea is a controversial goldmine that gets eyeballs.

But CIOs, at least those in India, can breathe more easily. Research from Accenture shows that given a choice of who “should own an organization’s digital vision and strategy,” Indian businesses chose CIOs over all other CXOs.

The study is called Digital Transformation in the Age of the Customer.

According to their research, 37 percent of Indian decision-makers (with responsibilities for customer experience strategy or digital initiatives) believe CIOs should lead the digital charge. In terms of trust, that’s among the highest in the world. In Japan, for contrast, only 18 percent of businesses believe CIO should lead the digital charge.

Businesses in only two other countries have greater faith in their CIOs. That’s the UK (46 percent) and the US (43 percent).

Crisis of faith averted. Phew!

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It’s only in these three countries (the UK, the US and India) where digital leaders believe the CIO should lead the digital charge—rather than the CEO. In all other countries in the survey, digital leaders believed the CEO should own the company’s digital strategy.

That says a lot about how CIOs are thought of in these countries, including India, since many believe that going digital requires an overhaul of the business—and whoever drives it needs to carry a big stick.

Digital Transformation requires leadership transformation. A great article that gets to the point.

— Steve Vamos (@stevevamos) October 3, 2014 Unfortunately, that’s not the full story.

This trust in CIOs to lead digital doesn’t show up on real life. In reality, CEOs tend to do the actual leading where digital transformation is concerned. That’s true in most parts of the world, including India.

In India, 35 percent of businesses say the CIO actually owns the digital vision and strategy—37 percent say it’s the CEO.

The exceptions are Brazil, China and the United States. It’s only in these countries where digital vision is owned by CIOs.

For a lot of CIOs, that’s ok. They aren’t, in their minds, competing with CEOs for control over IT. But there’s a problem with that thinking. Sure, another CXO isn’t going to replace them—but they could lose the trust of their CEOs. And, in the long run, that’s just as bad.

If more CEOs own their company’s digital agendas, it’s probably because going digital means re-tooling a lot of different parts of a company, and CEOs have the most heft to make that happen. Enterprises eager to crest the digital mountain must work on three fronts: Technology, processes and organization.

Interestingly, 85 percent of Indian digital leaders feel that technologically they are most ready to execute their digital strategies. That’s higher than what digital leaders from other countries reported. Another hurray for CIOs.