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Too many tech fish in the c-suite: Embracing new roles that overlap with IT

Bonnie Gardiner | Aug. 4, 2015
CIOs not equipped for the demands of the digital world must learn to embrace roles like the CMO, CDO and the CINO

Where once the CIO would defend their turf, now many have effectively partnered with those roles, and must be willing to tear down barriers and navigate new working relationships to enable business growth.

The concept of digital leadership is on the rise. The 2015 Harvey Nash CIO Survey found 17 percent of CIOs worldwide now work with a chief digital officer, while a CEO survey by Gartner found more than 40 percent of CEOs said they have a senior leader with "digital" in the job title.

The chief digital officer can help to bridge any divide between the CMO and CIO to better meet customer expectations, and is expected to think strategically about optimising the digital landscape to drive growth and increase revenue.

Another new front runner is the chief innovation officer, with an even wider reach across all lines of business. In a study by PwC and Corporate Executive Board, 61 percent of CEOs said that innovation is a priority, and 75 percent of executives are concerned with not having enough ideas.

Implementing disruptive innovation that would give a company competitive edge requires time, research and effort -- enter the CINO, who can identify areas for innovation and work across business units to ensure ideas are turned into actions, balancing the usual innovation-killing culture of traditional corporates.

The role is technically not new -- as far back as 2012, 43 percent of large companies had a formally accountable innovation executive in place, according to a Capgemini survey. But the overlap of the CINO into the remit of IT has naturally increased as technology becomes the basis of all business operations.

One company that has taken on a CINO is marketing and communications firm, Bastion Group.

Bastion's digital innovation strategy is headed up by Hugh Cameron, former head of digital with, as part of an overall strategy to change and upskill digital leadership in-house, while choosing to outsource most of their IT systems.

"We've changed the IT leadership role in Bastion Group significantly over the last six months after identifying some key areas in our business that we wanted to grow," says Michelle Cox, Bastion's chief operating officer, who oversees IT.

"First we put me into the COO role across the whole group. Now we're working to be more digitally and social savvy as a business, wanting to be at the forefront of changes in our industry. We had to upskill our entire business around that social and digital space, and we went out there to look for an expert and found Hugh."

Cox says Cameron's remit as CINO is to work across the four companies under the Bastion Group, and he is expected to come up with new ideas, tools and strategy for each individual business unit, as well as maintaining a group-wide gaze.


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