CIOs Want to Innovate. But They’re Split on the How

July 31, 2018 by Amanda Maksymiw

A strand of purple DNA on a black background

IT professionals have undergone a significant transformation over the last decade. Once labeled a necessary cost center to keep businesses up and running, perceptions around IT have shifted to the point where they have become valuable peers, lending important contributions to organizational success. The attitudinal change is in part due to the role technology plays in our personal lives – consumers today have a greater understanding of how much we rely on it for every day functions. In the business world, this reliance increases tenfold. With the right tools, workforces can reach new levels of productivity, collaboration can become more meaningful, and data and analytics can reveal new insight to increase efficiencies. Game changing CIOs who can lead this transformation are needed now more than ever to remain competitive in the digital era.

So far, a large portion of IT leaders have embraced their newfound responsibilities. In fact, with digital transformation initiatives well under way, 27 percent of businesses are charging CIOs with leading the process – the highest among the c-suite. Furthermore, according to our own research, 80 percent of CIOs believe that IT’s ability to innovate is critical to the success of the business. CIOs are clearly aligned on the destination, but our new findings indicate they are split on how to get there.

Earlier this year Fuze launched an online poll of senior IT leaders to get a sense of how they are approaching leadership in the age of digital transformation. Based on their responses, they were separated into three distinct categories:

  • The Practical Pragmatist. Tech gadgets are cool and all, but what’s the benefit to the bottom line? They’re focused on ushering in digital transformation where it is most likely going to improve efficiency, enhance productivity, and cut costs. They look to evaluate tools based on impact, not buzz. 
  • The Buzz Chaser. There’s a new app for that? Of course, there is –  they already have it on your phone, tablet, and desktop. They’re the first to know about the latest tech tools and are eager to embrace the digital workplace, and all that comes with it. Change is the name of the game, and they aren’t afraid to embrace it.
  • The Big Picture CIO. It’s about the marathon not the sprint. They look to find a healthy balance between disruption and efficiency when evaluating new technology solutions. They’re keen to drive digital transformation efforts, but are conscious of how and when it will impact key stakeholders, company leaders, and the workforce more broadly.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the findings were split largely in favor of the Big Picture CIO, with 53 percent of respondents following into that category. They were followed by the Practical Pragmatist (28 percent) and finally the Buzz Chaser (19 percent). Big Picture CIOs understand the value of innovative technologies while understanding the widespread implications associated with adoption and implementation. They’re the compromise – the Pragmatists err on the side of caution and the Buzz Chasers aren’t afraid to take risks. The bigger question, is the rate of success across the board.

Our CIO Outlook study found that while excitement around the role of the CIO has risen, so has the set of challenges they’re facing. Of those surveyed, 91 percent of CIOs feel pressure to cut department costs. Furthermore, they feel that IT teams are spending 83 percent of the time trouble shooting rather than innovating. There’s a clear passion among IT leaders to be the Game Changer in the organization, but many have yet to shake the traditional problems that have historically held their departments back.

Being an IT Game Changer requires more than just a desire to enact change throughout an organization. It means partnering across the c-suite to educate peers and employee audiences. It means raising a voice to be a champion of what employees need to be successful in the modern age. Regardless of how you approach digital transformation, acknowledging and embracing the role of the CIO is the first step.

Are you an IT Game Changer? Check out our Game Changers page to learn more about what’s impacting senior IT leaders.

Amanda Maksymiw
Amanda Maksymiw

Amanda is responsible for setting and managing the Fuze content marketing strategy including creating, producing and publishing engaging content. Throughout her career, she's worked with fast-growing tech companies and VCs on developing content marketing, influencer marketing and social media strategies. Amanda received her BBA in Marketing from the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

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