COVID-19 inflates CIO roles as virus puts DX on turbo

CIOs now sit at the center of virtually every major business initiative in today’s digital-first economy, with 85% in Asia Pacific-based CIOs — compared to 90% in the United States and 75% in Europe, Middle East and Africa — saying they feel pressure to digitally transform their business, research from Adobe shows.

Adobe noted that with vaccine distribution now on track, businesses are tapping CIOs to help shape their return-to-work plans to ensure that employees can work productively and safely from any location.

“Along with other business leaders, we have embraced our enhanced responsibilities and influence as an opportunity to further collaborate and succeed in today’s new digital-first reality,” said Cynthia Stoddard, SVP and CIO at Adobe. 

Adobe partnered with Fortune to survey more than 500 CIOs across the US (200 respondents); Europe, Middle East and Africa (150); and APAC (156) regions.

At least three-quarters of CIOs say their role has expanded, that their responsibilities have increased, and that they have greater influence on leadership decisions within their organisation.

“Moving forward, CIOs need to think about the integrated tools and frameworks necessary to help their organisations effectively capture customer data, convert that data into valuable insights, and utilise those insights to shape a personalised and enhanced customer experience (CX),” said Stoddard.”

CIOs are fueling their company’s customer experience (CX) thrust, with 97% saying they are as focused on CX as before the COVID-19 pandemic, if not more so, despite all the new responsibilities on their shoulders.

Among the many priorities CIOs must now manage, data security and privacy rank highest. The survey says 71% of US-based CIOs singled out security and privacy as the most likely area for increased investment in 2021.

“As hybrid working models are set to become the norm post-pandemic, CIOs need to ensure their organisations have the right infrastructure and processes in place to keep data secure and compliant no matter where they are based,” said Stoddard.

With more teams directly involved in shaping CX, CIOs regularly partner with two or more C-level colleagues on CX management initiatives.

Of these relationships, there is arguably none stronger than the link between CIOs and CMOs. Among respondents, 95% strongly agree that partnering with the CMO improves their organisation’s CX. Similarly, 93% say that working closely with CMOs promotes innovation.

Nearly 60% of CIOs now meet with their CMO counterpart on a daily or weekly basis, forming a true power duo.

Also, 89% of CIOs see themselves as change agents who play a role in improving the culture of their organisation.