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CIO's role is to embrace change and tame digital dragons

CIO's role is to embrace change and tame digital dragons

Digital business has created a change-ready mindset for 77% of CIO survey respondents in Africa, according to Gartner, Inc.'s annual CIO survey.

Gartner analysts presented these findings during Gartner Symposium/ITxpo, currently hosted in Cape Town this week.

The survey showed that 50% of CIO respondents in Africa are responsible for the digital transformation strategy of their organisation, and 43% are in charge of innovation.

"CIOs in Africa are fully embracing and capitalising on digital business," said Tomas Nielsen, research director at Gartner. "Among respondents from Africa, on average, 29% of organisations' processes have been optimised through digital means. As a result, their role is moving to non-IT responsibilities, forcing them to reimagine their role within the organisation."

The 2017 Gartner CIO Agenda Survey gathered data from 3,160 CIO respondents in 98 countries and all major industries, representing approximately US$13 trillion in revenue/public-sector budgets and $277 billion in IT spending. Sixty-six CIOs from Africa were surveyed, representing $3 billion in IT spending.

Most CIOs in Africa are designing and delivering digital business and becoming transformational leaders to scale and harvest.

"The role of the CIO is changing from a delivery executive to a business executive ... we have asked the provocative question - if your enterprise was looking to fill your job today, would they hire you?," said Nielsen.

According to Gartner, CIO respondents in Africa have made significant inroads in their digital journey. The survey showed that 45% of CIOs in Africa are either designing or delivering their digital initiative, while 13% moved beyond delivery into scaling and harvesting on their digital initiatives.

However, the majority of CIO respondents in Africa remain in the initial stages of their digital journey – and for these CIOs, the biggest barrier is the organisation's culture.

"Nearly half of all CIOs said that culture is the biggest barrier that prevents them from scaling their digital business transformation," said Nielsen. "Their second highest challenge is shortage of resources."

This means that CIOs in Africa need to embrace a broader role beyond technology, and hone their change management and transformational leadership skills to succeed in their digital transformation journey.

New and increased digital investments

"Digital business is clearly taking centre stage among the IT department," said Nielsen. "It is also eroding the barriers to change and increasing the adoption of new technologies and trends in Africa."

As such digital business is not only driving the need of new roles in IT, such as API product managers, chief analytics officers, user experience designers and cloud architects, but for CIOs in Africa another critical investment area is cybersecurity.

The survey found that 36% of CIOs in Africa have already invested and deployed a digital security solution and an additional 30% are already actively experimenting with digital security.

29% of CIO respondents in Africa who are in short-term planning or already invested in digital security said it will necessitate the most new skills to be added to the IT department by the time the solution is operational.

"Following the recent cyberattacks, it is not surprising that cybersecurity investments take centre stage in Africa," said Nielsen.

96% of respondents believe that cybersecurity threats will increase in the next three years. Increased focus and need for cybersecurity has essentially become the unavoidable consequence of the recent years of growth in cyberattacks.

"CIOs should pay increased attention to this space, as it has direct attention from both corporate executives and external board members," added Nielsen.

The Internet of Things (IoT) was ranked as the second highest investment in digital technologies by CIO respondents in Africa.

The survey found that 11% of CIOs in Africa have already invested and deployed IoT, 17% are actively experimenting with it, and 25% have medium or long-term planning for IoT. "Interest in artificial intelligence (AI) is also growing with most respondents indicating AI is either on their radar or a medium to long-term plan for 38 and 27 percent of CIOs in Africa, respectively, with only 2 percent having deployed AI," said Nielsen.

"The key is to increase investment in technologies that help organisations reach their business objectives. CIOs should align their priorities with the priorities of their C-level partners. This requires that they know what those priorities are," he concluded.

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