CIOs must collaborate with a new ‘digital champion’ – the CEO

CIOs who don't work with their fellow C-suite stakeholders to demonstrate their value risk marginalization

It's well-established that some CIOs are ceding control of certain IT assets, as CMOs and other executives purchase technologies to accelerate growth. But CEOs running companies conducting digital transformations are also spending more on technology that drives innovation, according to new research from PwC. For CIOs, that means working with all of their fellow C-suite stakeholders to demonstrate their value to the business. Those who don’t risk marginalization.

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Some 73 percent of 2,000 business and IT executives PwC surveyed say that CEOs are taking more active roles in the pursuit of digital technologies intended to help grow their businesses, a significant increase over the 57 percent who indicated that their CEO was in the digital driver's seat in 2013. What’s happening? Digital disruption is driving changes across corporate cultures – changes that affect the employees, process and technologies for which CEOs are responsible. That makes chief executives natural candidates to lead digital transformations, says Matt Egol, partner at PwC and chief strategy officer with PwC Digital Services.

[ Related: Retail CIOs become heroes with the help of CMOs ]

“You can’t drive the transformation across culture, capabilities and customer experience in a coordinated and coherent way without the CEO leading the charge, Egol says.

Several factors at play here are greasing the wheels for CEOs to insert themselves in the IT discussion. Companies are generating massive amounts of content and data, via such touchpoints as applications, beacons and other gadgets intended to deliver consumers personalized experiences. CEOs, recognizing that technology is a strategic asset they must nurture to accelerate growth, support this activity by assigning responsibility for digital innovation to other executives. Consumerization has leveled the playing field for even the nontechies, who can now purchase and use cloud, mobile and analytics tools without assistance from IT.

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