by Richard Pastore

C-Suites Struggle With Digital Strategy

May 31, 20142 mins
CIOCIO 100IT Leadership

Many execs are dissatisfied with how their organizations make decisions about shaping digital business strategy. Will the CIO step up to be the digital pathfinder?

Many executives admit that their C-suite hesitates to make the bold decisions required to capitalize on the opportunities and solve the challenges presented by a digital business environment, according to more than 400 executives surveyed by the CIO Executive Council.

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Only 14 percent of respondents were highly satisfied with the C-suite’s efforts to shape digital strategy and its decision-making record on digital opportunities, which usually involve social, mobile, analytics and cloud technologies. Nearly half were dissatisfied.

What’s wrong in the C-suite? Many C-level executives make decisions about digital business in silos, rather than in collaboration with their peers, according to the Council, which is affiliated with CIO magazine. But multiple studies show that, when pursuing a digital strategy, a collaborative C-suite produces greater business benefits.

Asked what needs to change, survey respondents most often agreed with the following recommendations:

  • Better anticipate digital opportunities and challenges
  • Accelerate decision making and execution
  • Create and communicate a strategic vision for the digital business environment

The key is being future-oriented, the study says. “A game-changer for any organization in this digital environment is thinking about what can be,” says Paul Larkins, president and CEO of SquareTwo Financial. “Our CIO, Bill Weeks, shares with other members of the C-suite what might be [and] gets them excited about it.”

Any executive could step up to be the company’s digital pathfinder, the study says. CIOs don’t have a lock on that role, but the council says CIOs are well-positioned to become their C-suite’s digital guide and champion–otherwise they risk being sidelined.

Although the position of chief digital officer (CDO) is getting a lot of attention, only 12 percent of the survey respondents frequently delegate digital decisions to CDOs, and only 6 percent recommend hiring one.

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