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The road to transformation: What causes CIOs to fail?

06 Mar 2019
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VMware recently shared some insights on some of the CIOs biggest challenges and what causes them to fail. Insights into positive CIO traits, negative attributes and more are part of a recent Insights survey quantifying the Ascent of the CIO.

What causes CIOs to fail?

Pressure on CIOs comes from everywhere. Business shareholders, directors and CEOs need their CIOs to move digital transformation initiatives forward faster and within budget. Employees want their CIOs to be more responsive to their technology needs, so they can be more productive.

More than half (53%) of 400 surveyed CIOs cited three behaviours most likely to cause a CIO to be unsuccessful:

  • Lack of technology expertise.
  • Being tactical instead of strategic.
  • Not seeing a vision and leading to it.

The common theme is clear: CIOs who shy away from action and leadership will find it hard to succeed.

CIOs can’t afford to keep IT operating the same way, researching, discovering, testing and then rolling out new technologies. To be competitive in the years ahead, CIOs must help lead the business, not be reactive to business needs.

The inability to partner with stakeholders and win over senior management was also identified as failing CIO attributes in the survey. Improvement in either (and in both) requires CIO self-awareness and self-transformation so the business can be successful.

The role of the CIO is evolving, notes VMware CIO Bask Iyer. Traditionally given to the most technical person, now the role is more about managing people. This requires leadership skills to help influence the business.

“You’ll obviously see many CIOs end up as CEOs because the job is becoming more IT-centric. Like Madonna, who changes her style every year, a CIO has to change his/her style every two years,” he says.

Significantly, CIOs embracing digital transformation opportunities recognise not only the need for their organisations to change but also for their very personas to evolve. Surveyed CIOs identified these four personal skills as the ones they need to improve the most:

  • Leadership skills (39%).
  • Communicating and influencing (37%).
  • Partnering with others (36%).
  • Strategic thinking and action (32%).

By boosting these key personality qualities, top-level IT pros can find success in advancing digital initiatives that drive customer engagement, transform traditional work processes, and empower their workforces like never before.

The expectation from CEOs and others across the business is that CIOs will step up and embrace the leadership reins. It’s a matter of CIOs accepting the challenge of being both an advising expert and change leader.