Asian CIOs waking up to many layers that going digital brings

Also surfaces here the role deputy CIOs that provides CIOs with the opportunity to spend more time on ensuring that benefits from their investments are fully realized

Pratima Harigunani
New Update

MUMBAI, INDIA: In its annual survey of more than 2,810 CIOs worldwide, representing more than $397 billion in CIO IT budgets in 84 countries, Gartner asked how CIOs should adapt their leadership to ensure their enterprises survive and thrive in an increasingly digital world.


About 84 per cent of chief information officers (CIOs) in Southeast Asia recognize the need to adapt their leadership style in the next three years to succeed in digital business, compared with the global average of 75 per  cent, according to a new report from Gartner, Inc. To achieve this, 69 per cent said that they want to decrease their controlling approach to focus on significantly increasing their visionary and coaching attributes.

The survey included responses from 117 CIOs from the Southeast Asia region, including Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

"While CIOs in Southeast Asia are more bullish about digital technologies than their global counterparts, they are generally more constrained by immature digital risk management processes," said Sid Deshpande, principal research analyst at Gartner. "To realize the benefits of digital technology investments, CIOs in the region really need to innovate on people and process opportunities."


According to the survey, CIOs in Southeast Asia are expecting a larger increase in budget in 2015 (3.6 per cent) compared with the global weighted average (one per cent). They are generally enthusiastic about leveraging the digital opportunity, where the level of business success an organization can achieve in the digital era is clearly predicated on the level of digital vision and leadership the organization possesses. Examples of top-down digital leadership in Southeast Asia include the Smart Nation initiative recently launched by the Singapore government and DBS Bank's sustained focus on digital innovation.

The survey also indicated that 68 per cent of CIOs in Southeast Asia reported that they have a deputy CIO role in place to manage day-to-day IT operations, which is a noticeable difference compared with 47 per cent globally. This provides them with the opportunity to spend more time on ensuring that benefits from their investments are fully realized.

In addition, CIOs in the region spend of 50 percent of their time on average with either the board of directors, C-level executive peers or business unit leadership, slightly higher than the global average of 44 percent. While 43 percent of CIOs in Southeast Asia believe they should lead the digital change, only 15 percent of CEOs share that perspective. This indicates that CEOs view digital leadership as a team game, and they view the CIO as a "first among equals" when it comes to digital leadership.


"It is clear that CIOs in the region have the opportunity to establish themselves as digital leaders in the eyes of the CEO and business leaders," added Mr. Deshpande. "They should sponsor and foster innovation and experimental projects around mobile, analytics and cloud, while providing visibility to such efforts among the business leadership of their organization."

Risk management not sufficient to support digital world

According to the survey, 86 percent of CIOs in Southeast Asia agree that in addition to the considerable opportunities it brings, the digital world is creating new, different and higher levels of risk. However, 81 percent believe their current investments in risk management are unable to keep up with the increasing digital risk to which their organizations are exposed, compared with 69 percent globally.

"This recognition of ineffective risk management investments is a good first step toward remediating the problem," said Deshpande. "Changing risk management approaches for the digital era will require CIOs to increase employee awareness and foster a digital risk culture within the organization. The 'flip' from technology to digital risk will also provide organizations with the agility to respond to unexpected risks, which was a concern for 93 per cent of CIOs in the region."