Gartner Survey Reveals That 76 Percent of EMEA CIOs Must Change their Leadership Style to Succeed as a Digital Leader

Seventy-six percent of CIOs in EMEA need to adapt their leadership style in the next three years to fully embrace digital business, according to a Gartner, Inc. survey of 1,034 CIOs in EMEA. 

“Command-and-control leadership doesn’t suit this digital world,” said Dave Aron, vice president and Gartner Fellow. “In fact, it can be an obstacle. Vision and inspiration are typically the most powerful attributes of digital leaders. CIOs must accept to flip from ‘control first’ to vision first. In EMEA, 65 percent of CIOs said that they need to decrease their time on commanding IT, while 45 percent of them said they need to increase their visionary leadership.” 

Mr. Aron and Lee Weldon, research director at Gartner, presented the findings of the worldwide survey of 2,810 CIOs, representing more than $397 billion in CIO IT budgets in 84 countries, during Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2014, which is taking place here until Thursday. 

Being a powerful leader and influencer takes time. Running an IT organization is a complex business, and when the CIO survey results from 2011 are compared to the 2015 CIO Agenda, , the findings showed that the average CIO is spending 5 percent more time (an extra day per month), running the IT department. 

“CIOs must make time for leadership,” said Graham Waller vice president and executive partner for Gartner Executive Programs. “We found that CIOs with higher performance as IT leaders appoint a deputy responsible for running the whole IT shop day to day. This gives them an extra 5 percent of time (a day per month), to engage with the board, senior leadership and external customers. In EMEA, 51 percent of CIOs have such a deputy.”   

As well as running the IT department, CIOs must be aware of digital trends on the horizon and even participate in digital experiments and innovations. “Digital has moved to centre stage, so is the opportunity for CIOs to flip their digital leadership from ‘legacy first’ to ‘digital first’,” said Mr. Aron. 

The survey found that EMEA CIOs believe they have 42 percent of the digital leadership responsibility in their business. CEOs see the digital change as more of a team game. Being a powerful digital leader and influencer takes time. CIOs must not view the Nexus of Forces (cloud, information, mobile and social) as the end of the journey to digital business and they should invest in a new set of digital technologies. In EMEA, 74 percent of CIOs said they have the Internet of Things on their radar or are experimenting with or already using it. 

Seizing the digital opportunity also requires the evolution of information and analytics in the organization. “Given the levels of change, backward-looking reporting is less and less valuable. CIOs are shifting the centre of gravity from backward-looking reporting to forward-looking data-led experimentation,” said Mr. Aron. “Eighty percent of EMEA CIOs said they are shifting their focus to forward-looking predictive analytics, and 77 percent are shifting their emphasis to active experimentation informed by data.” 

In addition to the opportunities afforded by digitalization, 91 percent of EMEA CIOs agreed that the digital world is creating new types and levels of risk for their business, and 61 per cent said that the discipline of risk management is not keeping up. “CIOs need to work with their chief information security officers whether risk management is adapting fast enough to the digital world,” said Mr. Aron. 

“To fully grasp the digital opportunity, businesses and CIOs need to ‘flip’ long-held behaviors and beliefs,” said Mr. Aron. “These are not small changes. They demand commitment and focus from the CIO, and it is critical for CIOs to partner with their most important business stakeholders to develop a shared understanding of digitalization and what it means for the business.” 

Additional insight from Mr. Aron around the CIO Agenda is available on the Gartner YouTube Channel at More commentary from Mr. Waller is available on the Gartner YouTube Channel at

 About Gartner Symposium/ITxpo

Gartner Symposium/ITxpo is the world’s most important gathering of CIOs and other senior IT executives. This event delivers independent and objective content with the authority of the world’s leading IT research and advisory organization, and provides access to the latest solutions from key technology providers. Gartner’s annual Symposium/ITxpo events are key components of attendees’ annual planning efforts. IT executives rely on these events to gain insight into how their organizations can use IT to address business challenges and improve operational efficiency. 

Additional information for Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2014 in Barcelona, November 9-13, is available at  Additional information from the event will be shared on Twitter at using #GartnerSYM.

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