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CIOs, CxOs Teaming Up to Drive Enterprisewide Digital Success, Gartner Survey Reveals

IT leaders see generative AI as a game-changing technology, while CIO franchisers are exceeding outcomes more often than their operator and explorer counterparts, the Gartner CIO survey also finds.

Nearly half of CIOs are collaborating with their CxO peers to jointly lead digital delivery initiatives, according to Gartner's annual survey of CIOs and technology executives.

During the Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo taking place this week in Orlando, Florida, Gartner analysts presented their findings from the 2024 Gartner CIO and Technology Executive Survey, which gathered data from 2,457 CIO respondents in 84 countries and all major industries, representing $163 billion in IT spending.

Key findings from the Gartner CIO survey include:

  • 45% of CIOs are working with their CxO peers to bring IT and business area staff together to co-lead digital delivery on an enterprisewide scale.
  • 70% of CIOs say generative AI is a game-changing technology, but only 9% of CIOs so far have deployed GenAI technologies.
  • Cybersecurity is CIOs' top area of future investment in 2024.
  • 61% of IT leaders cited excelling in customer or citizen experience as the most critical outcome from digital technology investments.
  • Only 12% of CIOs are considered franchisers, despite the advantages of being one.

Hill pulled quote

"CIOs face a paradigm shift, sharing leadership responsibilities with CxOs to deliver digital success, while also contending with budgetary pressures and transformative technologies," Mandi Bishop, distinguished VP analyst at Gartner, said in a statement. "To successfully lead digital transformation initiatives, CIOs must co-own efforts with business leaders to place the design, delivery and management of digital capabilities with teams closest to the point where value is created."

CIOs Turning to Low-Code and GenAI to Democratize Digital Delivery

The survey found that CIOs are increasingly focused on democratizing digital delivery using such technologies as low-code platforms (64% of CIOs have implemented or intend to implement low-code platforms in the next two years) and generative AI (55% say they will deploy GenAI over the next two years). Currently, just 9% of CIOs have deployed generative AI technologies, despite 70% calling GenAI a game-changing technology that will rapidly advance the democratization of digital delivery beyond the IT function.

Related: ITPro Today's 2023 IT Priorities Survey Report

Gartner Distinguished VP Analyst Janelle Hill told ITPro Today that GenAI is game-changer in multiple ways. "ChatGPT is accessible to all — from the least to the most sophisticated worker — thus has its risks and rewards. It changes the digital delivery game for the CIO," Hill said. "Industry-specific use cases for GenAI can be game-changing. GenAI has potential to accelerate time to action for responsiveness to customers and stakeholders, generate new products and services, and change the cost structure of an enterprise."

Gartner's CIO survey also revealed that CIOs' top area of future investment in 2024 is cybersecurity, followed by data analytics, cloud platforms, and artificial intelligence/machine learning.

CIOs' Expected Change in Technology Investments in 2024

Gartner CIO investments

Source: Gartner (October 2023)

Related: ITPro Today's 2023 Cybersecurity Survey Report

In addition, the Gartner survey found that CIOs and IT leaders see excelling in customer or citizen experience as the most critical outcome from digital tech investments, followed by improving operating margins and generating revenue.

CIOs' Most Critical Enterprise Outcomes from Digital Technology Investments

ranking of CIOs' most critical outcomes from digital investments

Source: Gartner (October 2023)

"The ability to meet customers where they are — on the phone, online, in store, at home, embedded in another app such as mobile banking, etc., and coordinate across all these channels has been the most obvious and accessible digital solution for everyone — public and private sector," Hill said.

"Cost efficiency and margin improvement are internal efforts, usually around process automation, which has been done for years." she added. "It's disappointing that so few have yet to identify revenue-generating digital products or capabilities."

The Advantages of Being a Franchiser CIO

Gartner places CIOs into one of three categories, depending on how they accelerate and scale digital delivery:

  • Operators (55% of CIOs): CIOs who retain responsibility for digital delivery and collaborate with CxOs to sponsor digital initiatives in various business areas.
  • Explorers (33% of CIOs): CIOs who involve CxOs and business area staff in digital delivery activities.
  • Franchisers (12% of CIOs): CIOs who co-lead, co-deliver, and co-govern digital initiatives with CxO peers, with both IT and business staff working together in multidisciplinary fusion teams to share the delivery responsibility.

According to the Gartner CIO survey, 63% of digital initiatives meet or exceed outcome targets when CIOs adopt a franchise model, compared to 43% when CIOs remain within a traditional operator model. In addition, Gartner found that franchisers also perform significantly better at general IT management activities.

This begs the question as to why more CIOs aren't franchisers. According to Hill, it's not the fault of the CIO. "Franchising is a target state that 90+% of Gartner's CIO clients aspire to," she said. "However, around 70% of our clients have not yet reached this level of maturity."

Often, the business leaders themselves aren't mature or advanced in their thinking about how to leverage technology, and it's hard for an IT organization to be anything more than what their business expects, Hill said.

"We do expect the percentage of franchisers to grow a lot, but slowly — over the next 3-5 years," Hill added. "There are two trends behind this shift that cannot be stopped: 1) ongoing democratization of technology (witness ChatGPT) and 2) generational change in the workforce, with digital natives becoming the largest proportion of workers."

Hill emphasized that the democratization of digital delivery is a crucial strategy to foster business innovation, accelerate time-to-market, and enhance agility. "As CIOs are expected by their CEO to orchestrate a range of enterprise outcomes, CIOs must integrate and align the digital initiatives led by their CxO counterparts," she said. "CIO and CxO co-ownership of digital delivery is an indivisible part of enterprise — not just functional — outcome attainment."

About the author

Rick Dagley headshotRick Dagley is senior editor at ITPro Today, covering IT operations and management, cloud computing, edge computing, software development and IT careers. Previously, he was a longtime editor at PCWeek/eWEEK, with stints at Computer Design and Telecommunications magazines before that.
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