CIOs to be crucial for digital transformation accountability: WSJ


Digital Transformation is impacting Chief Investment Officer’s (CIOs) responsibilities. According to a new report by The Wall Street Journal, CIOs are acquiring much broader responsibilities within their organizations. This trend derives from an increase in corporate-wide digital business operations.

CIOs to be crucial in digital transformation processes

As companies continue to engage in digital transformation processes, it surges the need for an executive who can evaluate digital efforts with a broad-organization view. Also, utilities need someone to be accountable for the measures implemented.

Janelle Hill, research chief at the Gartner Inc.’s CIO unit, told the WSJ this type of role was previously associated with the Chief Operating Officer (COO) figure.

However, several large organizations in the energy, manufacturing, and retail activities, and now undergoing digital transformation operations, don’t have COO as coordinators, Hill added.

In Gartner Inc.’s annual list of top strategic predictions, the company expected a quarter of the CIOs working in traditional enterprises to become “COO by proxy.”

Although some CIOs currently focus on information technologies management as a support function, many of them already play strategic roles, enhancing their corporate direction.

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Forecasts expect CIOs to be increasingly called upon becoming more accountable operationally. According to Hill, CIOs will have the authority to recommend which digital projects will be implemented, which activities will receive funding, and which efforts should be discarded.  

These officers will also be expected to monitor digital performance results and team with other business leaders to provide digital services and products to their clients.

In summary, the CIO figure “will be held more accountable for the success or failure of their organization’s collective investments in digital businesses,” Ms. Hill said.

A real-life experience

The WSJ shares Neal Sample’s experience, CIO at Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. Mr. Sample’s shared he oversees most of his digital operations.

Compared with the activities he developed in his last job as Express Scripts Holding Co.’s CIO, Sample said he notes quite a transition from the classic CIO model to the new one.

For instance, in the past, his primary responsibilities were related to latency and availability issues. As Northwestern’s CIO, he is in charge of ensuring the digital traffic and user experience are strong and good.  

“We’re sort of expected to not just build, fire and forget,” he said, “but actually deliver the experience, measure the experience and then respond to the way the market is absorbing that experience,” he told the WSJ.

The 2018 book, “CIOs and the Digital Transformation: A New Leadership Role” by Giovanni Vaia, also reviewed the changing roles for CIOs. The book observed ways in which CIO roles will play a key part in the digital transformation process.

According to the book, these officers can design digital organizations and implement digital technologies in several workspaces, creating spaces for competition and innovative ecosystems.

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