Executive briefing

Born to be digital

How leading CIOs are preparing

for a digital transformation

Born to be digital |


About this report

EY’s Born to be digital: how leading CIOs are

preparing for a digital transformation, published

early 2014, surveyed over 180 CIOs, chief

technology officers and subject matter experts

from a range of industries that use IT intensively.

For the report, we spoke to representatives of

industries with the highest average spend on IT

as a percentage of total revenue. We selected

businesses that spend a substantial portion

of their budgets on IT because they are also

likely to be investing in digital technologies.

Through this, we strove to identify how the skills,

approach and mindset of a traditional CIO 1 would

have to change with the digital transformation.

Born to be digital spanned key global markets

and focused primarily on large firms: 27% had

annual revenues between US$500m and US$1b,

and the rest were larger, including 20% with

revenues of at least US$10b.

From this sample, we identified and profiled a

subset of CIOs in IT-intensive industries who

focus the majority of their time on the most

strategic elements of their jobs. We called these

the “digital-ready” CIOs.

This document is an executive briefing. The

full version and the methodology of Born to be

digital is also available for download.

1. “Traditional CIOs” or “typical CIOs” refers to CIOs in non

IT-intensive industries as questioned for The DNA of the

CIO, EY, 2012.

Born to be digital |


Born to be digital explores four core themes:





Setting the

scene: the rise

of the digital


The DNA of the


industry CIO

A mindset for

change: six traits

of the digitalready


Are you born

to be digital?


for the leading


This report is focused on the sectors identified as being most ITintensive,

in terms of annual spending on IT as a percentage of

revenue. Those sectors include technology (including hardware,

software and other IT services), financial services, life sciences,

telecommunications, online and e-commerce.

Born to be digital |


The rise of digital

AbstractDigital technologies — including social media, the cloud, data

analytics and mobile — are rapidly emerging as disruptive

forces for businesses in all industries. They are fundamentally

changing the ways in which consumers interact with

companies and brands, while also opening up new business

models at the heart of these firms.

With every month that passes, more services go digital. Just

think: when did you last book a flight without going online?

Or go into a bank branch to transfer funds?

This race for digital presents a huge opportunity for CIOs,

especially those who aspire to take on bigger and more

influential roles.

Report highlights

►►CIOs see digital as a major opportunity to fulfill

their career aspirations.

►►Proactive CIOs within IT-intensive industries are

better suited to transforming their businesses

and their careers.

►►Despite having a seat at the top table, not

enough CIOs are grasping the potential for digital

transformation. This is opening the door for new

specialist roles, such as the chief digital officer.

► ► The CIOs who are most strongly aware of the

key role they have in developing business show a

distinct set of six characteristics that help them

stand out.

Born to be digital |


71 %

of digital-ready CIOs and 51%

of IT-intensive industry CIOs

strongly agree that they are

taking the lead in pioneering

new digital approaches

within their businesses.

57 %

of digital-ready

CIOs are highly

engaged on core

strategic issues.

53 %

of CIOs within IT-intensive

industries hold a seat at

the executive management

table, compared with just

17% of CIOs in all industries.

87 %

of digital-ready CIOs are

discussing IT’s role in

business transformation.

Digital-ready CIOs are those who prioritize shaping the future of their businesses

with the right technology, as well as preparing and developing their organizations

for change. They have different mindsets and ways of thinking.

The six core traits of digital-ready CIOs

Have a clear


vision of how


will transform

business — and

know how to

implement it

Are relentless


Focus closely

on driving

growth —

and the


they need to

support this

Ensure their

vision is


Move beyond

operations and





1 2 3 4 5 6

Born to be digital |


Proactive and positive: how digital-ready CIOs make

their mark


Digital-ready CIOs are typically

more able to:

►Reframe ► their thinking and present a positive

story to the rest of the business about the

future that technology can deliver.

►Seek ► to create value proactively, with strong

engagement across everything from product

innovation and operational agility to supporting


►Manage ► expectations carefully, walking a fine

line between keeping their businesses excited

about the potential of IT, and keeping a realistic

sense of what’s possible.

► ►Remain eager to keep developing their skills

and capabilities.

In return, these CIOs reap the


►Seventy-one ►

percent of digital-ready CIOs

strongly agree that their standing within the

business has materially improved over the past

three years, compared with just 54% of CIOs in

IT-intensive industries overall.

►They ► are seen to hold better career prospects

and are more highly regarded in the business.

►Sixty ► percent are able to influence broader

company strategy, compared with only 45% of

their traditional CIO peers.

►They ► are more satisfied in their job and how it

is perceived externally.

Born to be digital |


Section 1


the scene:

the rise of

the digital


A core set of digital

technologies — mobile,

social, the cloud and data,

among others — are

transforming companies at

both an operational and a

strategic level. These

technologies are unleashing

a wave of IT-led innovation,

and creating new revenue

and cost-saving


Online retailer Amazon is using digital to

interact in new ways with its customers. Its

recent devices include a dedicated button that

connects users to a helpline attendant via oneway

video chat, bringing a human element back

into a routine support function. As a recent

EY report — The digitisation of everything —

suggests, the corporate world is seeing three

core changes:

1. Using digital to enhance traditional business

models, such as moving from selling products

to providing services

2. Transforming existing business models to

offer new digital services

3. Inventing completely new types of business

models — from virtual currencies in online

games, to selling digital data 2

This digital transformation is moving fast. In a

MITSloan survey of executives from different

business functions across a wide range of

industries, nearly 80% of respondents said that

achieving digital transformation will be critical to

their businesses within the next two years. 3

It is also enabling organizations of all shapes and

sizes to reinvent themselves. For leading CIOs,

this presents a major opportunity to expand their

role and remit — if they are willing to take it.

2. The digitization of everything: how organisations

must adapt to changing consumer behaviour,

EY, 2011.

3. Embracing digital technology, MITSloan

Management Review, MITSloan, 2013.

Born to be digital |


The CIO divide ahead

These transformations are essential to business

longevity, but they will also create profound

challenges for the firms making or seeking to

make them. And, given the strategic nature of the

changes that a digital transformation requires,

they also have major implications for CIOs.

With the pace of the move from today’s systems to

tomorrow’s digital technologies, there is a need for

CIOs to be faster and more reactive in supporting

innovation and growth.

In a previous research report, The DNA of the

CIO, we revealed that 64% of all CIOs are happy

in their current roles — and comfort zones. 4 Only

31% say that they aspire to move into a more

powerful job with greater influence over the rest

of the business. 5 But for those CIOs who do have

aspirations to take on a bigger role, digital can

provide an opportunity. And it requires the ability

to recognize and adapt to this shift.

“This is a major shift for

CIOs, away from their

historical focus on

running an efficient IT

center and toward a

focus on innovation.

Some are able to make

that shift, but others

don’t have that ability.”

Bob Sydow, Americas IT

Advisory Leader at EY

This is especially apparent in a core set of

sectors — including technology companies,

banks and life sciences firms — that already

spend a high proportion of their revenue on IT.

4. The DNA of the CIO, EY, 2012.

5. Facts about Chief Digital Officers, Dave Aron,

Gartner, 6 November 2013.

“When I look at the sales

and marketing

organizations, the

amount of automation

and data-driven

information that they

use in their daily

business is magnitudes

bigger than just a couple

of years ago.”

Michael Golz, CIO Americas,


Born to be digital |


Section 2


of the ITintensive

industry CIO

Companies of all sizes,

across all sectors, are

embracing digital. Given

such a broad scope, our

survey for this report

focused on the most ITintensive


globally — those with the

highest average spend on

IT as a percentage of total

revenue — because these

firms are most likely to be

engaging with digital.

Our focus captures firms

with IT at the heart of their

business — banks,

pharmaceutical companies,

telecommunications and

media firms, and, of

course, technology firms.

These organizations,

where IT is a core

boardroom topic, provide

ideal launchpads for

aspirational CIOs.

IT-intensive industries leading

the charge

IT-intensive industries are setting the pace for

digital transformation. Overall, 51% of CIOs within

these industries report that they are already

strongly engaged in leading the implementation

of digital technologies. 6

One of the most striking differences among this

group is that 53% hold a place on the executive

management team, compared with just 17%

of typical CIOs. Being a part of the executive

management team is vital for CIOs to help

address the opportunities and threats that digital

transformation presents. But even those who

make it to the boardroom often fail to capitalize

on the opportunity to make the case for more

strategic engagement on IT across the business.

Why do CIOs struggle to get this right? In part,

there is the need for a transition in mindset when

moving from an operationally focused role to one

that is more strategic. While IT-intensive industry

CIOs who have reached the boardroom show

stronger engagement on a wide range of issues,

more needs to be done to prioritize the strategic

elements of their role.

6. Terms such as “strong,” “deep” or “key” refer to

respondents that chose 8, 9 or 10 on a scale from

1 to 10, where 1 is the lowest and 10 is

the highest.

Born to be digital |



of IT-intensive industry CIOs

hold a seat at the executive

table — well ahead of


of typical CIOs.

Engagement on strategic issues

IT-intensive industry CIOs are also marked out

from typical CIOs by their stronger focus on

business performance and challenges.

In addition, typical CIOs create business value

by focusing on IT budgets and costs, whereas

CIOs in IT-intensive industries supplement this

with a clearer focus on supporting growth and

an emphasis on product innovation, minimizing

risks and contributing to the operational agility

of their businesses.


industry CIOs

Typical CIOs

55 %

36 %

Discussing business performance with the executive management team

Born to be digital | 10

“Many CIOs now have a

seat at the boardroom

table, but they don’t

know what to do

with it.”

Bob Concannon, Partner,


When executives are pushed to focus on

higher-level strategic issues, there is an inevitable

shift in the skills they need. IT-intensive industry

CIOs acknowledge a greater requirement for

softer skills, such as:


Communication and influencing




Change management

This recognition of the demand for a broader

range of skills is also reflected in the education

and job experiences of IT-intensive industry CIOs,

which is often more diverse.

However, many still struggle to translate

the need for stronger communication and

influencing skills into practical reality:


Few appear to hold stronger relationships

across the business than typical CIOs. In

fact, they often have weaker relationships.


This is true both internally and externally,

stretching from the chief executive officer

or chief financial officer to regulators and


For IT leaders who hold as much sway as they do

to influence other parts of the business, this is a

missed opportunity.

IT-intensive industry CIOs

Typical CIOs

87 % 90 % 83 % 79 %

81 % 74 %

Top three skills needed to succeed


and influencing




Born to be digital | 11

Section 3

A mindset

for change:

six traits of

the digitalready


While an IT-intensive

company 7 can provide the

ideal context for CIOs to

embrace digital, doing so

requires the individual in

question to lead this change.

In short, it demands a

different mindset.

To delve deeper into this

mindset, we assessed the

characteristics of those CIOs

who are strongly engaged in

the most strategic elements

of their jobs: business

transformation and business

model-related innovation.

The CIO’s contribution in any

business can be wide-ranging

in its scope

• Execution: CIOs are involved in the execution

of the basics — keeping systems up and running,

while keeping close tabs on the organization’s

overall IT spend.

• Enablement: this is where a more operational

focus starts to give way to something more

strategic in nature — from improving business

decisions by acting as an information broker

to enhancing business processes proactively.

• Development: at the highest level, CIOs are

called upon to help develop the business further.

From delivering business transformation

through to introducing business model

innovation, this can be the most rewarding part

of the job.

7. Companies from industries with

the highest average spend on IT

as a percentage of total

revenue, e.g., banks,

pharmaceutical companies and

telecommunications firms.

Born to be digital | 12

Delivering transformation

Core skills

• Leadership skills to drive through change in IT

• Enabling and leading business transformations by driving

IT transformations

• Proactively recommending transformations to board

members in order to strengthen and maintain

competitive advantage

• Setting and communicating the vision and strategy for IT

• Providing robust but constructive challenge to business


• Communicating clearly the IT and risk implications of


• Sponsoring delivery of planned transformation or major

change initiatives in the IT function

Key areas of experience

• Large-scale transformation management

• Scenario planning

• Change management

• Managing external customer relationships

• Managing internal customer relationships

• Internal communication of proposed changes and


• Operational areas, such as supply chain, finance and HR

• Cultural expertise

Core knowledge

• Detailed understanding of IT’s role in business


• Awareness of proposed organizational change and

transformation projects

• Knowledge of strategic and operational planning

• Knowledge of program and portfolio management


• Knowledge of change management techniques and pitfalls

• Practical understanding of people management

implications during change and transformation projects

Key relationships

• Chief financial officer

• Chief executive officer

• Chief operating officer

• Chief human resource officer

• Head of corporate development and strategy

Bringing business model innovation

Core skills

• Anticipating future impact of latest trends on IT function

and the business

• Radically innovating existing business models

• Utilizing IT as the enabler for innovative business models

• Sharing thoughts on existing and new business models

with board members and other business executives

• Engaging with business stakeholders to determine the

appropriate role for IT

• Influencing key stakeholders and winning trust and

support for IT projects

• Turning strategic plans into operational plans and

targets (including defining KPIs and monitoring


Key areas of experience

• Business model innovation

• Business acumen

• Scenario planning

• Business case creation

• Marketing, communication and customer relationship


• Operational areas, such as supply chain, finance and HR

Core knowledge

• Awareness of industry and organizational risk profile

• Awareness of the market and commercial environment

• Knowledge of business modeling and design thinking

• Knowledge of innovation management best practices

• Know how to adopt best practices from other areas or


• Detailed understanding of IT’s role in business model


Key relationships

• Chief innovation officer

• Chief marketing and communications officer

• Head of product development

• Chief financial officer

• Chief executive officer

• Chief operating officer

• Head of corporate development and strategy

Preparing and

developing the


for change



Shaping the future

of the business

with the right Controlling the

technology impact of IT


spend on the











the IT and


78% needs are

up and


Digital-ready CIO

IT-intensive industry CIO

(Percentage of respondents who have chosen

8, 9 or 10 on a scale from 1 = much less a priority

to 10 = much more a priority)


Sustaining and

extending the



and objectives


Providing insight

to support business



Born to be digital | 13

Digital-ready CIOs are

those who prioritize

shaping the future of

their businesses with

the right technology,

as well as preparing

and developing their

organizations for

change. They have

different mindsets

and ways of thinking.

Digital-ready CIOs are those CIOs who rated 8,

9 or 10 on a scale of 1 to 10 on the corporate

development aspects of their roles based on

the wheel model. As EY’s The DNA of the CIO

revealed, these qualities are what best enable

CIOs to deliver on core business changes, such as

the digital transformation now under way.

In analyzing strategic CIOs in IT-intensive

industries, whom we call digital-ready CIOs,

we found that six distinctive traits stood out.

The six core traits of digital-ready CIOs

Have a clear


vision of how


will transform

business — and

know how to

implement it

Are relentless


Focus closely

on driving

growth —

and the


they need to

support this

Ensure their

vision is


Move beyond

operations and





1 2 3 4 5 6

Born to be digital | 14

Digital-ready CIOs vs. IT-intensive industry CIOs — six distinctive traits

Digital-ready CIOs have a strategic vision of how technology will

transform the business — and know how to implement it.


By definition, all digital-ready CIOs have a clear

vision about the future of their businesses. They

have a powerful sense of how and where digital

can transform product development or sales and

marketing and open up new lines of revenue.

Digital-ready CIOs place more importance on

the close understanding of their market or

industry (70% compared with 52% of IT-intensive

industry CIOs).

But digital-ready CIOs work hard to tell that

story in comparison with IT-intensive industry

CIOs in general. Eighty-seven percent of digitalready

CIOs focus on making the case for IT’s

role in business transformation to the executive

management team, compared with only 72% of ITintensive

industry CIOs.

The digital-ready CIO also has the ability to deliver

on their vision, drawing on:


An intimate knowledge of the firm’s business



An ability to manage and drive complex

implementation programs

Ability to deliver on a vision

is just as important as the

vision itself —


of digital-ready CIOs put a

high value on designing and

executing business

strategy, compared with


of IT-intensive industry CIOs.


industry CIOs

in business transformation

Discussing IT budgetary

issues and infrastructure


72 % 73 % 55 % Discussing IT's role

Providing facts as basis

for strategic decisions

Digital-ready CIOs

87 % 78 % 70 %

Top three engagement areas with the executive management board

Born to be digital | 15

Digital-ready CIOs vs. IT-intensive industry CIOs — six distinctive traits

Digital-ready CIOs innovate relentlessly.


Eighty-one percent of digital-ready CIOs see

the need to innovate both at a business model

level and in terms of new products and services,

compared with 64% of IT-intensive industry CIOs.

Digital-ready CIOs more often explore how:


Digital can create new mobile interfaces or

e-commerce solutions


Social media can be used to reinvent

customer service or collaboration


Digital can help uncover new data-driven


Overall, 71% of digital-ready CIOs strongly

affirm that they are responsible for driving

disruptive new technologies — such as cloud,

mobile and analytics — compared with only 51%

of IT-intensive industry CIOs. They are also far

more engaged in the question of how to open

new markets.


of digital-ready CIOs are

highly engaged in helping

research and developing

new products and services.

Seventy percent of

digital-ready CIOs

are aware they can

add value by

analyzing and

innovating existing

business processes,

ahead of 61% of


industry CIOs.

IT-intensive industry CIOs

51 %

Digital-ready CIOs

71 %

CIOs responsibility for driving disruptive new technologies

Born to be digital | 16

Digital-ready CIOs vs. IT-intensive industry CIOs — six distinctive traits

Digital-ready CIOs focus closely on driving growth — and the


relationships they need to support this.

“Now we’re in a world

where things are

instant — whether it’s

data consumption,

acquisition or

analytics, people

expect answers

immediately. To deal

with this, IT and

marketing must get


Michael Golz,

CIO Americas, SAP

Digital-ready CIOs are looking toward the

forefront of the business, seeing how technology

can help drive growth by changing the way the

company markets and sells its wares.

Clearly, this implies a closer emphasis on

fostering relationships with those who are driving

sales. And while CIOs often fail to realize the

value of their company’s external clients to their

careers, digital-ready CIOs are far more engaged.

Many others also realize the importance of

roles such as the CMO or head of sales to their

career. Fifty-nine percent of digital-ready CIOs

say they have a very strong relationship with

their CMOs, compared with just 37% of CIOs in

IT-intensive industries.

IT-intensive industry CIOs

Digital-ready CIOs

37 %

With customers

37 % Strong relationship

With the CMO

52 %

59 %

Born to be digital | 17

Digital-ready CIOs vs. IT-intensive industry CIOs — six distinctive traits

Digital-ready CIOs ensure their vision is understood.


The ability to craft a compelling story about

how technology can transform a business is

vital: digital changes the way many businesses

work, but people have to buy into this vision and

understand the benefits. In short, CIOs need to

be master storytellers.

Digital-ready CIOs recognize this need. Nine out

of 10 cite communication and influencing skills

as strongly important: being able to explain

corporate strategies, product strengths and

go-to-market programs — all in the language of

the C-suite.

At the same time, digital-ready CIOs are using

media channels to drive their influence and build

their presence internally and externally — often

in unexpected ways.

Herman de Prins, CIO

at pharmaceutical

firm UCB, who prefers

to keep work-related

topics out of social

media, uses his

passion for cycling as

a source for non workrelated

updates and

links them to

technology. In turn,

this has helped him to

forge a range of

positive connections

across the business.

90 %

90 %


83 % Communication

and influencing



The digital-ready CIOs top three skills to succeed

Born to be digital | 18

Digital-ready CIOs vs. IT-intensive industry CIOs — six distinctive traits

Digital-ready CIOs move beyond operations and infrastructure.


“If you want to run

the operations

yourself, that is a

huge management

demand, so it will

affect your abilities

on strategy and

innovation. You

cannot do both.”

Bruno Ménard,

CIO, Sanofi

operations and infrastructure issues. They see

these as foundational elements that should be

run as efficiently as possible, freeing up their

time for the more strategic aspects of their role.

Many noted that traditional IT leaders appear to

be no more than infrastructure managers.

Instead, digital-ready CIOs have been placing

more attention on other issues, such as

enhancing business processes and preparing

their organizations for change. Even so, they

do not forget the operational elements —

understanding that smooth operational running

is what allows them to broaden their focus.

Digital-ready CIOs do more to move beyond

IT-intensive industry CIOs

Digital-ready CIOs


45 % %

Satisfaction with their ability

to influence broader company strategy

Born to be digital | 19

Digital-ready CIOs vs. IT-intensive industry CIOs — six distinctive traits

Digital-ready CIOs are courageous risk-takers.


Finally, digital-ready CIOs must be brave

enough to take a bet on emerging technologies.

This involves a willingness to risk failure — an

understanding that not all digital projects will

deliver as hoped. CIOs must experiment widely to

identify the biggest opportunities for the future.

Tight budgetary pressures are often cited by

CIOs as the reason why a new project can’t

push ahead. But digital-ready CIOs are more

often willing to find ways to turn such pressures

to their advantage. While nearly all CIOs have

these concerns, digital-ready CIOs are more

willing to embrace risks.

Equally, digital-ready CIOs place no greater

emphasis on IT budgets and spending than ITintensive

industry CIOs. Instead, they recognize

that their value is best realized by focusing on

business-enabling elements and identifying

where operational IT savings can best be

reinvested to innovate the business.

“Digital-ready CIOs

need to be more

innovative and risktaking.

But it’s a real

change from the

traditional way of

doing things, where

you argue for

budgets, fill in capital

request forms with a

business case and

so on.”

Tom Velema,

EMEIA IT Advisory Leader,


IT-intensive industry CIOs

Digital-ready CIOs

64 % Bringing innovation to both the business model

and the development of new products or services

81 %

Born to be digital | 20

The DNA of the digital-ready CIO

He or she (yes, 13% are women — above

the average for CIOs overall) is

typically 45 years of age.

On average, CIOs have spent a little

over five years in their current roles,

although almost half (49%) have been

in their current roles for less than

three years.

Often, they hold either a businessrelated

degree (52%) or a science and

engineering degree (35%).

They work hard to foster relationships

across the business, and see that as

important from a career perspective.

They are happy in their work: 64% plan

to remain where they are or move into

a bigger CIO position, although 23%

hope to run another business unit or

even become CEO.

Born to be digital | 21

Section 4

Are you born to be digital? Selfassessment

for the leading CIO

Are you equipped to be a digital-ready CIO? With those

leading the way sharing six distinctive traits, the

following assessment gives you the ability to benchmark

yourself against the core characteristics of today’s

leading CIOs.

Once you have completed the assessment and worked

out your score, you will find a series of pointers on how

CIOs can prepare for a digital world, stand out from

their peers, and position themselves to grow into this

evolving role. But ultimately, the deciding factor will be

whether you have the courage to act on your ambitions

and push to become a digital-ready CIO.

Please note, this exercise is indicative in purpose

only. Individual corporate priorities will vary from

business to business.

Born to be digital | 22


How detailed and specific is your vision for

the way digital technology will transform

your organization?

I don’t currently have a

plan, but will look to see

where other business

units adopt digital and

where it can gain most


1 pt

I recognize the

importance of it, and

am developing a plan

or road map for how

digital can be embedded

into our existing

business functions.

3 pts

I have an in-depth plan

for how digital can

transform our business,

across all major

business functions,

with a specific

implementation road

map linked to it.

5 pts Question 2

Born to be digital | 23


How involved are you in the innovation


1 pt

I have limited

involvement in

innovating at a

business model level.

I recognize the

importance of being

engaged in innovating

at a business model

level, and am taking

steps to become more


3 pts

Question 3

5 pts

I am highly engaged

in innovating at a

business model level

and in terms of new

products and services,

often leading our

internal discussions

on this.

Born to be digital | 24


What is your input in actually driving

growth within the business?

I have

little or no

direct impact

on driving

growth within

the business.


technologies I

help implement

directly support

growth, but I

act primarily

in a support

role to key

business unit


I proactively

look for new

technologies that

might enable

growth in the

business — while


fostering close


with the front

of the business

to assess their


1 pt 5 pts

3 pts Question 4

Born to be digital | 25


How do you seek to ensure that your vision

as CIO is communicated and understood

throughout your organization?

Question 5

1 pt 3 pts 5 pts

I have yet

to convince

those in my


about my

vision for the

future, and

find this very


I recognize the

importance of


my vision for

the future,

and I am

taking steps

to improve the

delivery and

language used.

I am



my vision for

the future in a

language that

my C-suite

peers are


with, and using

a variety of

channels to

spread this


Born to be digital | 26


How much time do you spend on operations

and infrastructure in your daily routine?

More than

50% of

my time.

1 pt

10%–50% of

my time.

3 pts Question 6

Less than 10%

of my time.

5 pts

Born to be digital | 27


What is your approach to risk-taking?

I think IT has to be

managed for the

downside, to mitigate

any risks, rather than

the upside.

1 pt

I experiment with

emerging technologies

when budget and time

pressures allow.

I carve out time

to make sure we

prudently experiment

with emerging

technologies — despite

the possibility of failure —

to ensure we don’t miss

anything transformative.

3 pts

5 pts


Born to be digital | 28

Your score

Less than

10 pts

You are only just beginning your journey to becoming a digital-ready CIO.

To accelerate your progress, consider taking the following steps:

• Don’t let operational IT overwhelm you. Leading CIOs must ensure

that operational issues are a side dish, not the main meal, in what

they serve up to the rest of the business.

• Prioritize innovation wherever possible, at both a process

and a business model level. To truly deliver on the wide-ranging

new opportunities to create more efficient processes that digital

presents, you’ll need a firm grasp of the corporate business and

operating model.

• Build close relationships with the front of the business. Digital

holds the promise of making IT a genuine source of growth, but requires

close relationships across the front office — starting with the CMO and

extending to the end customers.

• Be willing to take risks. Embracing new technology involves a leap

of faith. Don’t get caught up in the downside risks, but focus on the

potential to transform the business.

Born to be digital | 29

Your score


20 pts 30

You are making good progress toward becoming a digital-ready CIO. Having

mastered some of the core characteristics, you can broaden your thinking on

key issues by being mindful of the following:

• Give a detailed vision for how technology can transform the

business — and a plan to implement the transformation. Pushing

the digital transformation agenda forward requires a compelling and

credible vision, and understanding the necessary steps to achieve it.

• Be willing to move around, both across functions and companies.

Many leading CIOs rarely spend their entire careers in one place, but

hop around to gain exposure to different experiences and approaches.

• Prioritize innovation wherever possible, at both a process and a

business model level. These two aspects are fundamental to driving

digital transformation. Those who push hardest, and use innovation

to change and develop their business, are the ones most likely to be

building a truly digital business.

Born to be digital |

Your score


30 pts 31

Congratulations, you can count yourself among the digital-ready CIOs!

Your peers at this level constantly push themselves to improve further,

so don’t stop learning. Consider the following as you prepare to seize the

opportunities presented by digital:

• Be a spellbinding storyteller. It is human nature to be swept up by

a compelling story line and the possibilities it contains. The best CIOs

are able to provide a narrative about IT that the rest of the business

can buy into.

• Design and deliver on your vision for a technology-driven

business transformation. Leading CIOs require a powerful sense

of how and where digital can transform product development, or

sales and marketing, and how it can open up new lines of revenue.

You will require intimate knowledge of the business’s architecture to

achieve this.

• Improve your CV. Consider ways to develop a more powerful

contacts book. Many leading CIOs take non-executive directorships

or join external committees or think tanks to develop a more

wide-ranging skillset. Others do MBAs to widen their educational


Born to be digital |

Learn more

For more information on the

wider EY CIO program, visit

ey.com/cio and read our blog:


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Digital business know-how

Digital is transforming the world

we live and work in. Changing

the possibilities. Affecting every

individual, organization, business

and government. Will you seize

the opportunity? Or be left

behind? Want to know more

about EY’s digital business knowhow?

Visit us at


Born to be digital | 32

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