Digital requires a new leadership style, CIOs say

Web technologies are very different from enterprise technologies and require a completely different style of CIO leadership and organisational culture, former IT leader at supermarket J Sainsbury's Rob Fraser told members of CIO Plus last night.

CIO Plus community members took part in an incredibly frank debate on the role of digital at the inaugural CIO Plus event at CIO UK's head office in Central London.

Rob Fraser, who led IT at big four supermarket J Sainsbury's until mid-2014, and business consultant Gareth Lloyd shared the stage to debate with CIO Plus members the need to be a digital leader if the CIO role is to remain relevant.

The debate was frank, not only from headline speakers Fraser and Lloyd, but also the members of CIO Plus, which included business technology leaders from financial services, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, media and advertising; the NHS and leisure - among others.

Fraser was candid about his experiences as the most senior IT leader at major retailers such as Sainsbury's and Boots. The former IT Director was clear to his peers that a major part of the digital disruption that is happening is the web-oriented technologies that are enabling apps and start-ups to disrupt established markets such as retail, leisure, media and telecoms. Fraser was clear to his peers that their careers, built on a wealth of experience implementing and managing enterprise technologies such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) tools, is being challenged by web-based technologies and a change in operational culture these bring.

Fraser and Lloyd discussed the role of discipline for dealing with major programme changes, but how a looser, collaborative nature is more important for a culture that drives innovation.

Lloyd added that CIOs must not see the growing digital agenda as a threat to their careers. "All executive roles are in a state of flux," he said. To contact Gareth Lloyd and learn more about digital opportunities email:

CIO Plus will host debates with guest speakers every month on the challenges that CIOs face in their business technology leadership role. To join the debates and receive CIO magazine in app or print format visit

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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