Are CTOs finally getting the respect they deserve?
Thirty-seven percent of CEOs identified the CTO/CIO role as among those responsible for the most crucial functions over the next two to three years, the highest-ever spot in the “2021 CEO Study” by IBM.
The CTO/CIO role ranked third behind the CFO, cited by 57 percent among crucial functions, and COO, 56 percent.
Among the roles the CTO/CIO is gaining on:
- Chief marketing officer (CMO), was cited by 19 percent of CEOs as crucial this year, down from 66 percent in 2013;
- Chief innovation officer (CIO), was cited by four percent as crucial, down from 47 percent in 2013;
- Chief strategic officer (CSO), was cited by six percent as crucial, down from 67 percent in 2013.
The streamlining of exec roles reflects the study’s finding that “flatter, faster, and more flexible structures are succeeding.”
The study, based on a global survey of 3,000 CEOs, further found tech maturity is “an even more important” performance differentiator, with organizations investing in cloud computing, artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) performing better than peers during the disruptions of 2020.
The report referenced IBM’s “Digital acceleration” report that showed digital maturity is significantly correlated with financial performance. The researchers in the CEO study wrote, “Technology not only enables agility — it is central to enabling a hybrid workforce, as well as both operational efficiency and customer engagement.”
Asked which technologies will most help deliver results over the next two to three years, the top answer was Internet of Things (IoT), cited by 79 percent; followed by cloud computing, 74 percent; and artificial intelligence (AI), 52 percent.
The study still found that the role of corporate leaders “has become even more complex” as managing technological disruption competes for execs’ time with demands for sustainability, corporate purpose, employee engagement and other priorities.
Asked which skills will be most important to their company’s needs over the next two to three years, the top answer among outperforming organizations were those that were industry-specific, cited by 70 percent; followed by technology, 69 percent; flexibility, agility and adaptability, 51 percent; innovation, 46 percent; teaming and collaboration, 40 percent; and ethics and integrity, 40 percent.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Is the third position behind the CEO about right for the CTO/CIO role when it comes to c-level hierarchy? Have roles such as chief innovation officer, chief strategic officer and even chief marketing officer become less relevant amid digital transformation or is it a temporary shift?