CIOs Trail CMOs in Digital Transformation

Although digital transformation is a tech-reliant process, CMOs are more likely than CIOs to lead this journey, indicates new research from the Altimeter Group.
Posted September 21, 2016

Pedro Hernandez

It may buck conventional wisdom, but chief information officers (CIOs) aren't necessarily in the driver's seat when their organizations embark on the digital transformation journey.

Survey data from Altimeter Group's latest report, The 2016 State of Digital Transformation (registration required), reveals that most digital transformation initiatives are led by CMOs (chief marketing officers) not CIOs (34 percent vs. 19 percent). The research firm quizzed 500 digital strategists and executives to find out how enterprises are managing the transition from traditional business practices to the more modern, tech-driven processes that drive digital economy.

At most firms, customers are the focus of their efforts. "Customer Experience (CX) remains the top driver of digital transformation but IT and marketing still influence technology investments," noted Altimeter principal analyst and the report's co-author Brian Solis, in a post on the company's website.

Fifty-five percent of professionals cited evolving customer behaviors and preferences as the catalyst for change, followed by growth opportunities in new markets. Competitive pressures are motivating roughly half of all firms (49 percent) while 42 percent see digital transformation as a means to cope with new regulatory and compliance standards.

Accelerating innovation is the primary goal of most organizations (81 percent) that undergoing digital transformation. In fact, nearly half (46 percent) of all respondents said their companies formally launched an innovation center. Following innovation is an effort to modernize a business' IT infrastructure (80 percent) and improve operational agility (79 percent), the report found.

Digital transformation is already having a measurable effect on some organizations. Forty-one percent reported an increase in market share. Employee morale is improving too, said 37 percent of those polled.

This summer, a study from Sungard AS and Vanson Bourne revealed that despite some challenges, there were some significant benefits tied to digital transformation. Among them are reinvigorated IT departments.

The vast majority of IT directors (85 percent) reported that they picked up new skills and their jobs were made more exciting by digital transformation. The benefits also ripple across the general workforce the study found. End-users are more productive (60 percent) and enjoy increased staff mobility (52 percent). Overall, successful digital transformation projects have increased revenue, improved customer satisfaction and enhanced agility for approximately 40 percent of companies.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Datamation. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

Tags: CIO, CMO, Digital Transformation

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